From the archive: Frontline health care workers receive first COVID-19 vaccinations in Oregon

On Dec. 16, 2020 there was a glimmer of light for people in Oregon – the first COVID-19 vaccinations were given to frontline health care workers. Governor Brown was joined by Patrick Allen, Director of Oregon Health Authority (OHA), frontline health care workers and representatives from Legacy Health and Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, as well as Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, at a news conference to commemorate the event.

Ansu Drammeh, a critical care nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), spoke before receiving the vaccine. Drammeh spoke of how difficult the last 10 months have been for him and his ICU colleagues, saying that they felt at times as if the pandemic would never end.

Photo from left: Joe Ness, M.H.A., R.Ph., senior vice president and chief operations officer at OHSU Health looks on as Ansu Drammeh, R.N., B.S.N., OHSU cardiovascular intensive care nurse, receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine from Ryan Thrower, the first dental resident in the United States to administer a COVID-19 vaccine.

Drammeh said, “But today, all that is changing. For the first time in almost a year, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in what seems like forever, we finally have hope.

This vaccine and others like it are essential to bringing this nightmare pandemic to an end. That’s why when asked whether I would like to be among the first to be vaccinated, I, and many of colleagues, didn’t hesitate for a second.  

Drammeh was quick to point out that it’s important to continue wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and staying home as much as possible until the vaccine is available to all Oregonians.

Mayra Gomez, a registered nurse at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, who was also vaccinated today, spoke of her desire to be an example for her community as COVID is disproportionately affecting persons of color. Watch the full video clip below.

This article first appeared in the Dec. 16, 2020 issue of Oregon Coronavirus Update.