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First Doses of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Given In Converse County At Memorial Hospital of Converse County

Community news | Thursday, December 24, 2020

Contact: Terry Moss

The healthcare community at Memorial Hospital of Converse County (MHCC) has eagerly awaited the COVID-19 vaccine. While the Pfizer vaccine has already arrived in nearby Natrona, Converse County anticipated receiving the Moderna vaccine once the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was approved on December 18th, 2020.

The package arrived late in the day with no fanfare. Most of the hospital staff had already gone home after being advised that the COVID-19 vaccine they had waited for all day would not arrive on the twenty third as planned. “We were all incredibly excited to learn it arrived and immediately initiated our vaccination plan for our staff,” shared Chief Nursing Officer and head of the COVID-19 Task Force, Cristy Cobb.

Alerting staff in the evening hours of the twenty third, the Leadership Team at Memorial Hospital of Converse County quickly got the word out that the Moderna Vaccine would indeed be available Christmas Eve for those listed on the Priority 1a list from the Wyoming Department of Health. A welcome gift after many months of caring for patients with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Early in the morning on Christmas Eve, a line of providers, nurses, and members of the hospital team quickly formed outside the Arbor Cafe on the hospital's first floor. The first to receive the vaccine was MHCC employee Toni Skaggs, who works in the Dietary and Nutrition department. Sixty-five staff members quickly followed her throughout the morning as they waited patiently for their turn to receive the first of two doses of the vaccine. “Many in our organization that met Phase 1 criteria received the COVID-19 vaccine today,” said MHCC Chief Executive Officer Matt Dammeyer, PhD. “We look forward to the time when the broader public is able to receive the vaccine. MHCC will be there to support this process every step of the way in partnership with Converse County Public Heath.”

Among the staff receiving the vaccine was long time MHCC and Wyoming medical provider, Dr. John Thalken. He and his wife, MHCC Nurse Practitioner Twyla Thalken, have eagerly awaited the vaccine's arrival in our community. "We both feel so patriotic. I feel like we are doing something to help our country out of this very difficult time,” shared Dr. John and Twyla Thalken in a joint statement. “Thank you MHCC for this opportunity to help our community and country move forward together!"

The foundational science behind the vaccine has had a lengthy research and development process dating back to the sixties. With the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, researchers were able to synthesize the SARS-CoV-2 virus and develop a solution without introducing a live strain of the virus to humans in the form of the vaccine. “The efficacy and safety of these vaccines are all important to us as we consider their use by our staff,” stated MHCC Infectious Disease Specialist and Registered Nurse Giselle Grimes. “We did not have any staff show any adverse immediate reactions and we are making sure they are monitoring throughout the process to be on the look out for any side effects.”

Those who received the vaccine will need to return in approximately twenty-eight days for a booster and monitor for symptoms. Many stayed after to both be observed for immediate adverse reaction and download the V-Safe application provided by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), which will help them report any side effects of the vaccine directly to the agency.

“This [vaccine] will keep our community safe and as the past Mayor of Douglas the safety of our community is important to me,” concluded former Douglas Mayor and MHCC Information Technology staff member Bruce Jones.