First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine in N.H. Administered to Front Line Health Workers | New Hampshire Public Radio

First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine in N.H. Administered to Front Line Health Workers

Dec 15, 2020

The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were administered to five front-line health care workers at Elliot Hospital in Manchester Tuesday morning. The first shipment of thousands of vaccines arrived in the state Monday and will go to high-risk health care workers first, according to state officials.

"This is a pivotal moment for our state and our nation and we have the solution, so let's make sure we use it," said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette.

The first person in the state to be vaccinated was Heidi Kukla, an ICU nurse at the Elliot. She said she hoped volunteering to get it first would inspire those who may be skeptical to step up and get their shots once they're more widely available, which officials anticipate will be this spring.

"I can assure you that there is nothing worse than being a patient on a ventilator in an ICU anywhere in this country right now with COVID.  And the anguish of the family members that can't be there who are rationed to a phone call with a provider maybe once a day, because we're all so busy that we don't have the time to spend with the families that we'd like to," Kukla said. "So getting this vaccine, for me, is the first step in having all of this be done."

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Also among those to get their shots this morning was Melissa Martinez-Adorno, an OBGYN with Southern New Hampshire Health. She said she wanted the Latinx community in New Hampshire - which has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 - to feel more confident in the vaccine.

People of color are tending to be more skeptcal of the vaccine due to the nation's history of racism within medical research. 

"I felt it was my responsibility as a Latina physician in the state who's been a resident of the state for almost 20 years that I felt it was safe, and I was willing to go first for them. And I really just feel hopeful. It was really emotional, actually," she said.

High-risk health care workers will continue to get vaccinated throughout this week and next, with more doses on the way.

Click here for answers to more questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine and the state's plan to distribute it.