LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Rene White began to cry as she recounted her journey into medicine.
"I became a nurse when I was 40," she said to reporters inside her hospital, Baptist Health, in Louisville. "...I was really impressed with how they took care of my father when he had a stroke so, therefore, I went into healthcare."
A late bloomer to her true calling, the seven-year nurse now works in Baptist's COVID-19 unit. She could not be closer to the front line in the fight against the coronavirus.
As such, she was one of the very first to volunteer and receive one of Baptist's 975 Pfizer vaccine doses on Wednesday.
"I have people that I work with who don’t want to do it yet because they wanna see how I’m gonna react, what’s gonna happen," White continued. "But when they see that I’m coming down to do this they’re like, 'Well, maybe I need to sign up.'”
The small first group of volunteers that had lined up — some still in their scrubs as they were mid-shift — cheered as Dr. Subin Jain received the very first dose. Jain is a pulmonologist and has cared for the sickest patients to come to his ICU.
Krista Kirby, a nurse of 22 years and stationed in Baptist's critical care unit, sat down and told the person administering her dose that she was afraid of needles. She was delighted to tell reporters later she didn't feel the needle at all.
"If anyone is afraid of the vaccine because of fear of the pain of it, there was zero pain at all," she smiled. "I felt nothing, and I am very fearful — which I am embarrassed to say as a nurse, but I am fearful of needles. So, there was no pain involved, and I knew it was something I had to do, it was just what we have to do. So, I did it and I trust all of these folks here that are doing it with us."
Like many Americans, much of the staff at Baptist had questions about the vaccine — developed at a blistering pace in less than a year — but they trust the science and they trust each other.
The ones we met can't wait to get their second and final dose in a few weeks and take one step closer to seeing loved ones they've had to avoid, as they put themselves in harm's way each day to keep us safe.