As Montgomery County begins to receive its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, frontline health care workers will be the first in line to be vaccinated.
Montgomery County Health Department Administrator Hugh Satterlee said the first 500 allotted doses arrived in Montgomery County the week of Christmas, and will be split between Hillsboro Area Hospital and HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield.
Long-term care facilities are next on the list, and they are signed up to participate in a federal program, administered through CVS and Walgreens. Satterlee said it could begin in Montgomery County as early as Dec. 28.
And while Montgomery County wasn’t part of the first round of COVID-19 vaccines, some residents were able to take part in other counties.
“This vaccine is a big deal,” said Megan Tuetken of Irving. “It’s history-making, and I feel privileged to be a part of it, even though I hate the reason. I’m proud to be one of the first people to get it.”
Tuetken has been an ICU (intensive care unit) nurse at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield for the past 12 years, and received the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17.
Although she did not work directly with many COVID patients during the first few months of the pandemic, her ICU was transformed into a COVID unit as positive cases started to climb in November.
“It was really hard to see all these people,” Tuetken said. “Every shift for a couple of weeks, people were dying. It’s just really hard to see that.”
Tuetken added that she didn’t just jump on the vaccine bandwagon, she did a lot of her own research, talking to doctors and other medical professionals.
“The risk is pretty low,” Tuetken said, noting she did not have any side effects after the vaccine was administered. “This is not a brand new thing. It’s been studied for a long time.”
And though the first doses of the vaccine were administered in Montgomery County on Dec. 23, Satterlee expects it will be early spring before COVID-19 vaccinations are available to the public.
Tuekten encourages residents to stay informed and ask questions from reputable medical sources.
“This isn’t going to work if we don’t all do it,” she said. “I firmly believe all of us working together can make it happen.”