When frontline healthcare workers at Massac Memorial Hospital were asked why they were getting the vaccine against novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it didn’t take long for Whitney Bradford to state her reason.

“My father and uncle had kidney transplants, and my son is asthmatic. I am doing this for them,” she wrote on her “because” banner.

Massac Memorial began its first-round COVID-19 vaccination process on Dec. 30, which has completed on the hospital’s 100-plus employees. Bradford and Dr. Jonathan Walters, medical staff president, were among the first to receive the vaccine produced by Moderna.

“The power of modern science is absolutely amazing. I believe in the vaccine and proudly receive my dose. I am proud to work alongside such an amazing group of individuals at Massac Memorial,” Walters said.

For Bradford the reason hits closer to home. Her father, Larry Bradford, of Metropolis, had a kidney transplant in October 2012, while his brother, Billy Bradford, of Metropolis, had a kidney transplant in December 2012. Her 3-year-old son Adrenaline Craig Rush was hospitalized in August 2019 with breathing issues.

“The common cold to my father is like me having the flu. Things affect him differently, and I do not want to know how COVD-19 would affect him. With my son already having breathing issues and this being a respiratory disease, I don’t want to risk it with him, either,” Bradford said. “I’m taking every precaution I can to help keep my father, my uncle and my son safe and healthy. When I get off work, I change before I go pick my up my children from my parents’ house. I don’t want to risk bringing anything into their household with my father having a compromised immune system due to being a transplant patient.”

Bradford, of Metropolis, began working at Massac Memorial in September 2020 as a phlebotomist in the clinics and main lab. “I love helping people in anyway that I can, but I’d rather be behind that scenes,” she said.

The vaccine is another way she can help patients.

“I can’t help others if I’m not in good health myself,” Bradford explained. “We get a flu shot to help prevent getting the flu, why is this any different?

“I know people are scared/unsure of the vaccine, but I feel that the pros outweigh the cons in this issue. Since receiving the vaccine, I have experienced slight fatigue, other than that I have felt fine. I have friends in healthcare who have stated the same,” she continued. “Who isn’t tired these days? If being tired for a couple of days will help keep my family healthy and here a little bit longer, then I’ll be tired for a couple days. Being a mom, what else is new, right?”

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with the immune system so the body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, the COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

“It is exciting that we are able to provide this vaccine to our incredible team here at Massac Memorial Hospital, giving them some protection from the COVID-19 virus,” said Rick Goins, MMH CEO. “Over time, as more vaccine becomes available, we hope to be able to provide this vaccine to other essential workers in our community and to our patients. This moment gets us one step closer to ending this pandemic and getting back to living life as we did before the pandemic.”

Southern Seven COVID-19 Vaccine Registry remains openSouthern Seven Health Department announced Tuesday it will be wrapping up Phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccine soon and is awaiting for Illinois Department of Health approval to move into Phase 1B.

“It is also important for the community to know that not everyone in Phase 1B will be vaccinated immediately because of limited allocations of the vaccine to us from the state,” said Shawnna Rhine, Southern Seven’s community outreach coordinator. “Once we are permitted to move into Phase 1B, we will notify the public about scheduled clinics via Facebook, Twitter and the media.”

Southern Seven has also created a way for the public to add their name and contact information to a database for updates on when they might be able to get a COVID-19 Vaccine. The sign-up form is available at www.southern7.org in the top left corner and also on the department’s Facebook page. Vaccine appointments are required, with the second dose scheduled after receiving the first dose.

“Please be patient with us,” Rhine said. “ We are working daily to ensure we can get the vaccine to our community as safely and quickly as possible.”

Massac County records no COVID deathsFor the second week in a row and since the last edition of the Metropolis Planet, there were no deaths in Massac County confirmed as the result of COVID-19, Southern Seven announced Tuesday.

Through Tuesday, Southern Seven confirmed 26 deaths due COVID-19 in Massac County since August.

The county had 13 new cases on Tuesday — one teenager; two in their 20s; one in their 30s; three in their 40s; three in their 50s; two in their 60s and one 80 or above. Massac County now has 980 total cases, 733 of which are recovered and 221 are active.

Southern Seven reports 76 deaths in the region — Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties — since the start of the pandemic. There have been 5507 cumulative total cases in the region.

As of Tuesday, according to the IDPH, there were 6642 new individuals with COVID-19 identified in the state, bringing the confirmed total to 1,040,168 individuals with 17,743 deaths.

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