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Ohio State Wexner Medical Center among first in U.S. to administer COVID-19 vaccinations

Vaccine availability expected to expand in coming weeks

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center made history Monday as one of the first places in the United States and the first in Ohio to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

Following a countdown of “3-2-1,” six frontline health care workers simultaneously received the Pfizer vaccine at 10:47 a.m., sparking a round of applause. Thirty people were vaccinated Monday as part of a first run to ensure the process ran smoothly.

“This is so cool. This is like history in its making right now,” said Meghana Moodabagil, an emergency and internal medicine resident. “I want all my colleagues to be able to do what I’m doing right now.”

“I know that vaccine was produced in record time, but it feels like it’s been a very long year for us working in the hospital,” said Stacey Boyer, a registered nurse, after getting the vaccine.

The medical center received a total of 975 doses of the vaccine, which is being administered first to health care workers involved in direct care of COVID-positive patients. The vaccinations will continue Tuesday at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center East Hospital, with plans to expand availability over the next few weeks.

“After months of preparation, I am extraordinarily proud of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center for once again being at the forefront of the global COVID-19 response as our faculty and staff were among the first wave to receive the vaccine,” said Dr. Hal Paz, executive vice president and chancellor for Health Affairs at The Ohio State University and CEO of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “I am incredibly inspired by the commitment and resiliency our frontline workers continue to demonstrate during this challenging year. Our focus continues to be on protecting them and the health of the community so that we can finally overcome COVID-19, and this historic moment is an exciting and important next step in achieving that.”

Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson joined Gov. Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine and hospital staff to greet the UPS truck containing the vaccine, while medical center workers spelled out O-H-I-O in the hospital’s loading dock.

“The fast-tracked development of the COVID-19 vaccines is a historic achievement in research, health care and human ingenuity,” said Johnson. “It’s particularly significant for our frontline workers, who have been working tirelessly to meet the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic. Ohio State remains committed to doing all we can to keep our community healthy and assist the worldwide response to this virus. We see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we must remain vigilant in the short term to minimize infections until the majority of Americans are protected.

The first vaccine doses were thawed in the hospital pharmacy for about 30 minutes and then taken across the street to the Biomedical Research Tower to be administered. The remaining doses of the vaccine are being stored in special freezers to ensure they remain at -73 degrees Celsius.

The vaccinations came just three days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine has been found to be 95% effective and is one of several being developed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

“Very, very exciting day for Ohio,” DeWine said. “This really is the day we’ve been waiting for – it starts the process of the end. We know the end is a long way off, but the end now is in sight and it’s a great deal of excitement here.”

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