LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s been two years since Dr. Jason Smith received the very first COVID vaccine in Kentucky.

What You Need To Know

  • Dr. Jason Smith received the first COVID vaccine shot in Kentucky on Dec. 14. 2020 

  • UofL Health has administered nearly 172,000 doses of the COVID vaccine

  • According to Dr. Smith, COVID mortality rate is less than 1%

  • 4 other health care staff received a Pfizer shot two years ago

Wednesday marks the two-year anniversary since the very first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Kentucky. It happened at the University of Louisville hospital. UofL Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith was the very first person in Kentucky to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

He’s kept the small Pfizer vial the vaccine came in, calling it “a memento and a reminder of what we’ve been through.”

Smith says it’s hard to believe how far the world has come in its fight against the virus two years since the first doses arrived in Kentucky.

“I can’t tell you the amount of relief people had when that finally happened. You know, we were thinking we were going to be fighting for years and we finally had something that could behind to stem that tide of what we were seeing and dealing with,” Smith said.

The deployment of the vaccine had its challenges and successes over the coming months, Smith explained.

“The acceptance to start off if you remember we were triaging. So everybody wanted it and you didn’t have enough to go around,” he recalled.

Then supply grew and for weeks Louisville staged large drive-thru vaccinations, first at the Kentucky State fairgrounds and then near Cardinal Stadium.

“And then you got to the spot where nobody wanted it and so I think that is the ebb and flow that we’ve seen around the vaccine deployment. It’s done a great job. I mean, there is no doubt about it that between the rollout of this vaccine, it has saved countless lives around the world,” Smith said.

Smith keeps the empty vial in his office as a conversation piece, a conversation that is ongoing as the virus is still with us.

“We’ve gotten better at treating it .We’ve got things in our armamentarium that we didn’t have three years ago. The whole world around COVID has changed and we are going to have to learn to live with it because it’s going to be here to stay with us.”