Published on December 17, 2020

Essentia Health administers first COVID-19 vaccines in Duluth

Kendra St. Germaine receives COVID-19 vaccine given at Essentia Health

Nine long months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Essentia Health was thrilled to take the first step toward herd immunity and ending this public health crisis on Thursday afternoon.

About 120 of our front-line workers, those directly involved in caring for COVID-positive patients, will be vaccinated today against a virus that has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 Americans. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 10, requires two doses 21 days apart to be fully effective.

Thursday was awash in history and hope. When the first vaccine was administered — to respiratory therapist Bill Simmons — whoops, cheers and applause filled the room.

Bill Simmons receives COVID-19 vaccine

“This is truly an historic day,” said Dr. Richard Vetter, chief medical officer for Essentia Health’s West Market. “The availability of this vaccine provides hope and encouragement for all of us to continue our fight against this virus.”

Earlier this week, Essentia Health in Duluth received its initial shipment of 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Essentia will adhere to CDC and state health department guidelines for the distribution of vaccines. The first phase includes health care providers and residents of long-term-care facilities. They will be followed by essential workers, such as teachers, police officers and firefighters, then adults with high-risk medical conditions and those over the age of 65. Waitlists are not part of either CDC or state health department guidelines at this time.

Andrea Boehland receives COVID-19 vaccine given at Essentia Health

The timeline for other populations will be determined by the roll-out of additional vaccines and quantities. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine information.

“The availability of an effective and safe vaccine is a critical step in protecting our health care workers, patients and communities,” Dr. Vetter said.
It is important to note that until a large percentage of the population is vaccinated, wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing continue to be necessary.

Following this press release will be a subsequent email with a link from allowing you to download video footage of the first vaccines being administered.

Respiratory therapist Bill Simmons, emergency department physician Dr. Andrea Boehland and registered nurse Kendra St. Germaine receive some of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

To coordinate interviews, photos, and/or video, contact the media relations team.

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