‘The end of this nightmare’: Frontline health care workers get COVID-19 vaccine in Washington

For health care workers in Washington, getting injected with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is a dose of hope.

For Amy Fry, a COVID ICU nurse at Harborview and the first to get the vaccine, it’s the “first step toward the end of this nightmare.”

“For the first time in a while I feel hope that there’s an end coming to this,” Fry said. “It’s just been a long, exhausting road and I think we’re all ready for this.”

Thirteen health care workers in UW Medicine’s network got vaccinations Tuesday, from an Emergency Department nurse to a Seattle Fire paramedic.

“This will give a lot of peace of mind to me and my coworkers to know that it’s another thing to keep us safe,” nurse Emily Agudo said. 

"I feel privileged to be here, lucky," said Seattle Fire paramedic Alan Goto.

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With each vial, each injection, first responders are one step closer to closing this chapter.

“These next couple of months are going to be difficult, but just to know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and there’s hope that myself and also the community can get this is really exciting,” said Annika Lucich, a nurse on the COVID acute care floor at UW’s Montlake location. “It’s just a big endurance, a big marathon, so hopefully this is one of the final legs.”

It’s a marathon that has taken so much from the community and health care workers. 

“One of the hardest parts is seeing the amount of suffering that not only patients have experienced but their families,” said Dr. Thuan Ong, the director of Harborview’s Post-Acute Care Network, who closely works with long-term care facilities. 

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Ong was overwhelmed with emotion, sitting in the chair to be vaccinated. He said he was at a nursing home earlier that day. 

“I was telling them that I’m going to get a vaccination today and the look of desperation, of, ‘Can I come with you?’ It means a lot,” he said of the ability to get vaccinated. 

In time, everyone will have this chance — a chance to end the nightmare those on the front lines live every day. 

UW Medicine said more than 90 percent of the first eligible health care workers to be offered the vaccine have signed up to get it. By Friday, UW Medicine said they hope to start vaccinating up to a thousand people daily.