At 6 a.m. on Friday, December 18, Kootenai Health’s first five employees lined up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. This group consisted of two pulmonologists/critical care physicians, a hospitalist, a respiratory therapist, and a critical care nurse. On Friday, nearly 200 Kootenai Health employees received the vaccine, with an estimated total of close to 350 before the weekend ended.
“I am very excited to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Todd Hoopman, M.D., pulmonologist and critical care physician, said. “It is a different type of excitement because it is tempered by the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am in awe of the science behind the vaccine and I am thankful for the dedication of so many individuals and groups that it took to bring this to us today. For the first time in many months, I am able to see an end to the pandemic beginning to materialize. The final end is still quite far away but it now seems achievable.”
Kootenai Health received around 1,370 vaccines in this first shipment and expects Panhandle Health District will receive more in the last two weeks of 2020. The goal is to administer the first dose to all frontline staff who would like it by the end of the year.
“I am here today as one of the first recipients to show my colleagues, my co-workers and my community that I believe in this vaccine and the importance of being vaccinated in order to see the day when the COVID-19 pandemic has ended,” Hoopman said. “In turn, I ask for your trust in this process and I ask for your trust in me. My responsibility as a physician is to promote health, provide healing and alleviate suffering. COVID-19 has created too much suffering for our community and those around the United States and the world. Our COVID-19 ending begins today.”