GERMANTOWN, Tennessee — Tuesday morning, history was made at Methodist Germantown Hospital, as the frontline health workers received the second and final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"It's kind of light at the end of the tunnel," Methodist Germantown cardiologist Dr. Michael McDonald said.
"We will feel much more comfortable in doing our jobs," Methodist Germantown infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Threlkeld added.
Three weeks ago, the first doses were administered at the same hospital.
Now, those most up close in treating COVID-19 patients have a bolstered immunity and additional peace of mind.
"It's just the pressure to see the sheer amount of people that are sick that is really a stressful time," Dr. Threlkeld said
"It's scary. We've had patients who did not make it - they're not just the old patients, we've had some younger patients," Dr. McDonald said.
Studies showed Pfizer's second vaccine dose with a 95% effectiveness against COVID-19. That's why the step Tuesday signaled a significant milestone in the relentless, months long fight to slow the spread.
"I think it's key for us, the whole global population, that we get vaccinated, otherwise we will never get back to our previous normal," Dr. McDonald said
As doctors rolled up their sleeves, they also served as role models to the broader public when available vaccinations expand later this year.
"Compared to the risk of getting COVID, it's heavily in favor of getting the vaccine," Dr. McDonald said.
"More and more associates are now wanting to receive the vaccine, so now we are seeing associates step up and take the vaccine, so it's really going in the right direction," Methodist Germantown Chief Operating Officer Anna Lopez said.
The moment was also significant for 24-year-old Mary Lynch, a recent nursing graduate hired at Methodist Germantown who was immediately thrown into the fire treating patients in the ER.
"Terrifying and amazing at the same time," Lynch said.
The vaccine dose brought hope and happiness after months of stress for Lynch and her coworkers.
"It is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I think the light is a little bit further away for sure. But it definitely feels better to know we are little bit more protected every day," Lynch said.
To date, more than 6,200 frontline health care workers across the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare system received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The goal eventually is to get all 13,000 workers system wide vaccinated in the months ahead, as supply becomes available.