First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Bryan County

Dr. Jay Jacinto, a physician at AllianceHealth Durant, was one of the first in Bryan County to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Staff photo.

By Joey McWilliams

DURANT – The fight against COIVD-19 stepped up this week as the distribution of a vaccine to combat it started around the United States. The first vaccines arrived in Bryan County overnight and the first doses were administered on Friday morning at AllianceHealth Durant.

Approximately 200 vaccinations were given to staff at the hospital.

Dr. Chris Leslie, an orthopedic surgeon and Chief of Surgery, was the first in Bryan County to receive the vaccine.

“It was absolutely nothing,” Leslie said. “I didn’t feel a thing. It was the tiniest needle. It takes two seconds and it is as simple as it could possibly be.

“This is a miracle that this happened so quickly and so effectively and so efficiently. This virus vaccine went through every step of the This came to us in record time and it’s so important to get thing across our country and across our world.”

Robyn Allen, Emergency Apartment Director, receives the Pfizer vaccine to combat COVID-19. Staff photo.

Leslie said he wanted to take the vaccine, which has been produce by Pfizer, for a number of reasons.

“We are potentially exposed to it every day. I wanted it for my family’s health and safety and also for my patients. It’s probably more important for my patients because I see 30-40 people every single day and I think it’s really important for us as medical providers for the community to show and to lead by example that this is something we believe is safe and effective and could help save all of our lives.

“It’s so important for people to really understand that this vaccine was fully tested and it didn’t skip a single step. It passed everything that the FDA and CDC requires. We believe in it and I think people should receive it absolutely as soon as they can.”

Leslie also explained how this vaccine works.

“It is an injection of a mixture of what is called messenger RNA. What messenger RNA does is it helps your body to produce the spike protein. The spike protein is what’s on the surface of the coronavirus.

“Your body recognizes that spike protein as a foreign body and it produces antibodies to it, so that if you are exposed to the coronavirus, your body recognizes that spike protein and it has the antibodies so it can kill the virus. That’s why it is so good and so effective.

“It’s not an injection of a deactivated virus – it’s messenger RNA. It has nothing to do with the actual virus, but it can kill the virus.”

Robyn Allen, Emergency Department Director, said the vaccination would be given out in three phases.

“We will distribute it to frontline staff initially,” Allen said. “And then we will move into Phase 2 with other high-risk populations and then Phase 3 with the general community.

Administering in the second and third phases will happen as doses becomes available.

Allen, who at first had not intended to take the vaccine, complimented all involved for how smoothly things have gone so far.

“It flowed very well. The Bryan County Health Department has done an amazing job of organizing and communicating and setting everything up at our facility. And I feel it went very well.

“I initially thought that I would not take the vaccination. But then after I saw how sick the people were and how hard it hit our community, I was on board 100 percent.

“I just think that everyone should weigh their options and think about the future and think about the sustainability of our health care system at this point and how this will affect them long term and their children and grandchildren.”

Leslie went on to say he felt this was a turning point in fight against COVID-19.

“This is a miracle that this happened so quickly and so effectively and so efficiently. This came to us in record time and it’s so important to get thing across our country and across our world,” Leslie said.

“The sooner we can get this vaccine out to everyone in the community, then we can finally end this horrible year that we’ve all had.”

Allen concurred.

“I think that 365 days from now, we will see a total decrease in cases and hopefully start moving toward normalcy again.”


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