Parkland Frontline Workers Receive COVID-19 Vaccine, Describe ‘Exhausting, Scary' Months in COVID-Unit

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Three more hospitals in North Texas now have thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including Parkland Hospital.

Within hours of receiving a shipment, those caring for COVID-patients voluntarily lined up for the first of two shots.

“This is nothing but pure joy and excitement at this moment in time,” said Samantha Rowley, CRNA. “This is the beginning to our end.”

Parkland Health and Hospital system received more than 5,800 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines Tuesday morning.

It is a bittersweet moment for COVID-unit nurse Tony Chris Nnaka.

“I think I’m thinking more about my patients, the ones that were not able to get this vaccine like I’m getting now. The ones that could’ve been saved from it,” he said as he prepared to receive his vaccine.

The first Parkland employee to receive the vaccine was nurse Perla Sanchez-Perez. A mother who has worked in the COVID-unit since March.

“It’s a moment that gives us hope,” she said. “Hope to hopefully decrease the chances, the incidents, the high numbers we have within our unit and hopefully to have some kind of normality.”

They described the nine months of heartbreaking work.

“Exhausting. Scary. Something we care to never do again,” said Rowley.

“You will not really understand the magnitude of the effect this virus can cause until you are there,” said Nnaka.

They said the number of patients is on the rise due to a post-Thanksgiving surge.

“In the past 48 hours we’ve stuck eight additional people on ventilators, which is very hard for us,” said Rowley. “We’ve also had a couple deaths.”

These frontline workers will get back to work, but they have one more public plea.

“Just stay safe. Stay at home,” said Nnaka. “If the vaccine is available to you, go ahead and get it because the science proves that it works.”

Parkland hopes to administer about 500 vaccines a day, using six trained vaccinators.

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