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First Healthcare Workers Vaccinated As Initial Doses Of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive In Maryland

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Multiple Maryland healthcare workers received the first of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines Monday after the vaccines arrived in the state.

The University of Maryland Medical System's first shipment of the vaccine arrived Monday morning at the University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore.

The first University of Maryland Medical System employee to get vaccinated was Shawn Hendricks, a nursing director who oversees several units at the University of Maryland Medical Center caring for COVID patients.

"I was actually thrilled to get the vaccine," Hendricks told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren.

Three of her relatives — her mother, brother and brother-in-law — have survived the virus.

"My mother was in the hospital for two months recovering, and prayerfully, she made it through and actually today is her birthday and she's with us— so that's a big thing for us because there were many lives lost," Hendricks said.

She mourned the almost 5,000 Marylanders who have died from COVID-19.

"The nurses' hands were the last that were held by some of these patients. They sat by their sides when their family members could not," she said.

The Baltimore native said the African American community, hit especially hard by the pandemic, needs to trust the science behind the vaccine.

"We are three times more likely to get COVID-19... I am concerned about that. I know there is some hesitance. I want us to instead of using that word hesitancy to use hope. I was hopeful and thrilled to get the vaccine, and if I had to be the first one in the University of Maryland Medical System to get it, I was happy to do that," she said.


Hendricks told Hellgren she was feeling good after getting the shot of Pfizer's vaccine at 1 p.m. Monday. "It's almost like getting the flu vaccine, but I must tell you, the flu vaccine stings. I didn't get any of that with the COVID vaccine and I feel good right now. I have no complaints."

She encourages everyone to get the shots when they are available to them.

"I know this is needed so we can end this pandemic because if we don't, this pandemic is going to be around us longer and I just think that it's going to get worse," Hendricks said.

UMMS received one tray of 975 vaccine doses and is allocating doses right now across the system, with more vaccines set to arrive later this week.

Johns Hopkins Medicine, meanwhile, said it got its initial doses on Monday and will begin vaccinating healthcare workers beginning on Wednesday.

Four other UMMS frontline health care workers were also vaccinated- two physicians, a respiratory therapist and an environmental service worker. Meet them below: 

Dr. Michael Winters, who works as a physician in UMMC's Adult Emergency Department. 

"I have cared for asymptomatic COVID patients that have had a positive result, those with mild to moderate symptoms that require supplemental oxygen and hospitalization, and critically ill COVID patients that have required resuscitation, intubation, and mechanical ventilation," Dr. Winters said. "This represents a historical moment in our fight against COVID. As emergency providers, we have stood courageously on the frontlines and cared for COVID patients seeking help in our emergency departments. By being one of the first providers to be vaccinated I feel this will convey an important message to my emergency medicine colleagues on the importance of this moment. Moving forward with vaccinations signals that the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to grow brighter by the day."

Dr. Sharon Henry, who has been a Shock Trauma physician for 23 years, and is now also caring for COVID patients. 

"I'm proud to be among the first clinical frontline healthcare workers for UMMS to be vaccinated, and strongly believe that this means we are one step closer to returning to normalcy."

Daisy Solares, RRT, who works as a respiratory therapist at the UMMC Downtown Campus, providing care for COVID patients. 

"It means a great deal to me to be among the first clinical frontline healthcare professionals to be vaccinated for the Medical System in honor of my father," said Solares, whose father Juan Gabriel Solares passed away this spring due to COVID. "I have been a strong advocate for staying safe throughout this pandemic since the beginning. When I went through all the emotions with losing my father and now going back into work, my feelings are even stronger. I hope the first wave of volunteers can help our community understand how important everyone's safety is throughout this pandemic."

William Thomas, a 25-year employee working in Environmental Services at the UMMC Midtown Campus

"It's a blessing. I just wish all of us could take it right now." Thomas also offered this advice for his colleagues: "We're in a COVID environment; it's best for all of us to take the vaccine as soon as we can. If anyone is scared about taking it, I say, it's better to get the vaccine than to get COVID."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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