Vaccine brings hope for health care professionals

Vaccine is working for Norton Healthcare employees

If you’re skeptical about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, here is something that might change your mind: It’s working. Health care employees, the first group in Kentucky to receive the vaccine, are starting to see the benefits.

“Since we’ve gone through the vaccination process, we only have small numbers of employees – running less than 10 – who are on medical furlough due to COVID-19,” said Steven T. Hester, M.D., MBA, division president of provider operations and system chief medical officer, Norton Healthcare. “Several months ago that was in the hundreds.

“I think it’s a direct relationship to the vaccine. I think we saw benefits along the way with masking and social distancing, but the vaccine’s had a real impact.”

In addition to decreasing numbers of people who are ill, the vaccine is also bringing a sense of hope.

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“It’s been a rough year for staff and especially with caring for dying patients without all family members by their side. It’s tough for patients, tough for families, tough for caregivers,” Dr. Hester said. “No one thinks they’re completely risk-free with the vaccine, but I think it does give a level of protection for our staff and eases their minds a bit.”

As the vaccine supply in the community increases and even more people become eligible to receive it, the medical community hopes to see the numbers of those infected continue to drop. But it all depends on people signing up to receive it.

“The data on these vaccines is so impressive,” Dr. Hester said. “They completely prevented severe disease and death from COVID-19.

“If you have the opportunity to get one of the vaccines, my advice is to take that opportunity and get it.  And, I really hope you do.”

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