Health Care Workers Among First To Get COVID-19 Vaccines In Arizona

By Katherine Davis-Young, Steve Goldstein
Published: Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 7:50am
Updated: Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 2:30pm

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regina villa vaccine
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Regina Villa, Valleywise Health ICU nurse manager, gets a coronavirus vaccine from Machrina Leach on Dec. 16, 2020. Villa was among the first in Arizona to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Coronavirus vaccinations are underway in Arizona. Ten health care professionals were among the first in the state to get shots in an event at the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory on Wednesday night. 

After months on the front lines of a pandemic that has killed more than 7,500 Arizonans, for a few health care workers, the event was a moment of joy.

The 10 who received shots included nurses, a surgeon, a National Guard medic, and Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state’s Department of Health Services. They spoke about wanting to protect their families and their patients and wanting to set an example for their communities.

"I’ve seen a lot of deaths, and this is just my way of showing support," said certified nursing assistant Olumbunmi Onadeko. 

Cara Christ vaccine
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Nurse Machrina Leach gives a coronavirus vaccine to Dr. Cara Christ, director of Arizona's Department of Health Services during an event to mark the beginning of the state's vaccination campaign.

Regina Villa with Valleywise Health manages a team of nurses in a COVID-19 unit.

“Some of them have tears in their eyes by 8 a.m.," Villa said. "It’s such a struggle. It’s such a defeat. This virus is killing people every single day right in front of our eyes.”

Villa said she never had any doubt in her mind that she’d want to get vaccinated.

"This experience was amazing, I’m honored to be one of the first," she said.

Arizona is set to receive more than 383,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of this month. Mass-vaccination events for thousands of health care workers are set to begin Thursday

coronavirus vaccine
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Captain Kenny Overton with the Phoenix Fire Department receives a vaccine from nurse Machrina Leach.

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