‘It’s a good day’: UnityPoint Meriter Hospital gives first COVID-19 vaccine

MADISON, Wis.– Frontline workers at UnityPoint Health Meriter had to wait about a week longer than other Madison area hospitals to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but as of Monday afternoon, that wait is over.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are,” Chief Medical Officer Pam Wetzel said. “We are celebrating. It’s a momentous occasion for us.”

Meriter’s first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine finally arrived Monday, an entire week after UW Health got its first shipment and six days after SSM Health.

“We were expecting it last week. We didn’t get it,” Wetzel said. “Our staff was upset. They didn’t understand why others were getting it.”

Similar to other healthcare facilities, employees with the highest COVID-19 exposure is first in line.

“We’re focused on our ICU nurses and our ICU physicians who go in there and the other areas where we are taking care of COVID patients,” Wetzel said.

Registered ICU nurse Mary Jo Steffes was lucky number one.

“It’s a good day,” Steffes said.

After spending the last ten months at the bedside of COVID-19 patients, Steffes hopes this shot is the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Unfortunately, I’ve seen more death now than in my 40 years ever working here and many years in the ICU, which is heartbreaking,” Steffes said.

Wetzel agrees that today’s special delivery was worth the wait.

“We’re moving forward, we have the vaccine and we couldn’t be happier about that,” Wetzel said.

Meriter will use this first shipment for first doses, but they couldn’t tell us exactly how many that is. The second required doses will arrive in a couple weeks.