Light at the end of the tunnel

The First Houstonians Have Received the Covid-19 Vaccine

Health care workers in hospitals across the city lined up to get the shot Tuesday.

By Catherine Wendlandt December 15, 2020

Baylor St. Luke's Critical Care Chief Dr. Pat Herlihy receives the Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine.

The first Houstonians have gotten the Covid-19 vaccine. The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rolled into the Bayou City Monday at M.D. Anderson, with more hospitals in the area receiving their own shipments Tuesday.

In a Monday press conference, Mayor Sylvester Turner encouraged hospitals to not wait to dole out the vaccine, but to immediately start immunizing their health care workers, who are the first to receive it, according to the allocation tier system. And Houston’s hospitals did not miss their shot. 

At Memorial Hermann-TMC, which received 6,000 doses this morning, the first person to get vaccinated was a Covid-19 ICU nurse named Robert Luckey (a lucky man indeed).

“It’s momentous for this country,” he told the Houston Chronicle about the vaccine’s development. “This is honestly the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Nurse Mary Ju receives a sticker after becoming the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at Baylor St. Luke's. 

At Baylor St. Luke’s, registered nurse Mary Ju received the hospital’s first vaccine at 3:30 p.m. She was followed by registered nurse Anna Gonzalez, Critical Care Chief Dr. Pat Herlihy, and E.R. Director Dr. Joe Young, among others. 

“Today is a day of hope for all of us as we receive the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and prepare to begin administering them,” said Liz Youngblood, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center president, in a statement. “We hope to be able to gather with our family and friends again soon and that people's lives and livelihoods will be restored. We see this historic day as the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”

Over at Houston Methodist, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo gathered to watch the first health care workers at that hospital get their shots (after Bob Kidd, the hospital's head of spiritual care, blessed the shipment). 

“I never thought I would be excited to see arms with Band-Aids,” said Turner, joking this is the first time he looked at someone as they were receiving a shot. He went on to describe the excitement in the air when he walked into the hospital, comparing the vaccine to Christmas presents.

“It does say, even in the midst of a storm, there’s still a rainbow in the sky. And today for the City of Houston, and for so many cities around the country, there’s a rainbow in the sky,” he said.  

Hidalgo compared today to D-Day in the fight against the coronavirus. “It is a victory,” she said. “It is a necessary step, and a positive step. We have not won the war yet, but we know we will.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for adults and teens age 16 and older last Friday, barely four days ago. On Monday, ICU nurse Sandra Lindsay at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York City became the first person in the U.S. to receive the vaccine. 

With the swiftness of Balto’s 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska, the vaccine was shipped out all over the country. Since Monday, Texas has received nearly 100,000 doses of the vaccine, with four hospitals getting shipments Monday and another 19 hospitals across the state receiving doses today alone, according to various sources. So far eight hospitals in the Houston area have gotten shipments of the vaccine, according to Click2Houston.

“Thank you, science. Thank you to medicine. Thank you to technology,” Turner said, before turning to face the hospital workers in the room at Houston Methodist. “Thank you for the health care providers, all of you.”

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