COVID vaccine: 1st shot in Will County, Illinois given to Joliet nurse

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Thursday, December 17, 2020
1st COVID-19 vaccines in Will County given to healthcare workers
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Emergency room nurse Hannah Puhr was the first healthcare worker at Amita Health Saint Joseph to get the shot.

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- The first COVID-19 vaccine in Will County was administered Wednesday afternoon

Emergency room nurse Hannah Puhr was the first healthcare worker to get the shot. There were cheers among her colleagues at Amita Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet following the injection.

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"It feels like history in the making, honestly," Puhr said. "Mostly it feels like hope though, which is just huge."

She said she received the shot not just for herself, but for all her patients who never made it to this day.

"Our hearts have been breaking this whole year for families who have lost loved ones, for our own team and our own family who have lost loved ones," Puhr said. "Yeah, I wish with all my heart that they could have been here today."

In Region 7, which consists of Will and Kankakee counties, the test positivity rate is still very high, above 12%. Hospitalizations are down 13% in the last 10 days. But ICU and non-ICU bed availability are both below the 20-percent warning threshold.

In fact, on the same day when healthcare workers began getting their vaccinations, officials at St. Joseph said they were down to just one ICU bed at one point today.

"Our goal is to keep our health care workers safe," said Dr. Stuart Marcus, chief clinical officer at Amita Health. "All along that has been our primary goal, to make sure our healthcare workers are safe, so that they can take care of all those in the community who are contracting the virus."

Amita health officials said the other 18 hospitals in the system will begin vaccinating their staff Thursday and Friday.

Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox also received its first doses of the vaccine Wednesday, where there were fist pumps and jubilation as the first healthcare workers were inoculated.