Transplant physician receives Providence’s first COVID-19 vaccine

SPOKANE, Wash. — The first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Spokane County.

“This truly, truly is a blessing that we have been given a gift that’s come to us to go ahead and really relieve all of us from this pandemic that we’ve been faced with over this past year,” said Elaine Couture, Regional Chief Executive at Providence. “Today, this gift that we’re able to give our caregivers is a beacon of hope and it’s a hope that next year is going to be a better year and we are going to return to the way we all experienced life in the past.”

Dr. Okechukwu Ojogho, a transplant physician at Providence Sacred Heart, received the vaccine at 5:45 a.m. Friday. He got his shot after being up all night performing a kidney and pancreas transplant.

“It is dearly a very historic moment. As a physician and a person of color, I’m very, very aware of how this virus has devastated our community,” Dr. Ojogho said. “This vaccine is a ray of hope that’s supposed to lift our spirits and help us to treat this virus. I really encourage everyone to get the vaccination so we can treat this virus.”

The county’s first shipment of the vaccines arrived on Wednesday. A Providence spokeswoman said 150 doses will be administered Friday and the health care provider has a full schedule of appointments for all of next week.

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MultiCare facilities are slated to receive initial doses early next week and will begin administering them to caregivers as soon as possible. Additional shipments of the vaccine are also expected in the coming days.

Meantime, vaccinations are also expected to begin Friday in North Idaho. A spokeswoman for the Panhandle Health District said they received 1,950 doses on Thursday and 975 of those would be administered to high-risk health care workers at Kootenai Health. The remaining doses of that shipment will distributed to other facilities across North Idaho’s five counties.

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