The Lehigh Valley's two biggest health networks commemorated one of the biggest moments in the 10-month fight against the pandemic Thursday.
A UPS truck delivered the first dose of Pfizer's two-dose COVID-19 vaccination, a week after it was granted emergency use authorization from the FDA, to St. Luke's University Health Network.
"It's a truly, in my opinion, revolutionary type of day. Certainly, not the end of the pandemic, but I think it's an important step towards that end," said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, Infectious Disease Specialist at SLUHN.
St. Luke's received 5,000 doses.
"I'm proud to say that we started to administer it within two hours from when we received the dosing, so we are working at our own warp speed right now to get all the personnel that accept the vaccine and need the vaccine to get their initial protection," Jahre said.
Lehigh Valley Health Network also received the vaccine Thursday. It vaccinated ten employees.
Nurse Chantal Branco was the first.
"There is definitely an element of stress relief," Branco said. "I am really excited, kind of the one good thing that's happening to us this week."
Experts said it's a start and not the end-all-be-all in the ongoing pandemic battle. They'll all still be social distancing, masking, and repeatedly hand washing.
But it's a welcome start, and perhaps the first glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.
LVHN said it will vaccinate another 1,000 workers Friday.
"We anticipate in the next few weeks we'll be able to hit our highest risk individuals based upon the work and area where they work," said Dr. Timothy Friel, Infectious Disease Specialist at LVHN.
They'll then move on to other employees.
St. Luke's said it expects the Moderna vaccine will also receive emergency authorization, and be available to the network by next week.