Many health care companies around the Valley have begun to roll out their vaccine distribution plans as the vaccine made it's way to Arizona Monday.
Here's how Banner Health and HonorHealth plan to distribute the vaccine.
After weeks of planning, Banner Health rolled out its drive-thru vaccine distribution operation at the state fairgrounds Thursday. It's one of the five pods in Maricopa County that will be giving out vaccines.
Banner leaders called it a "soft launch," with 165 health care workers getting vaccinations Thursday inside one of the warehouses. They plan to scale-up each day and eventually do more than 1,000 vaccinations a day.
The Pfizer vaccine is only available for people in the Phase 1a group, which includes health care workers with the highest exposure to the virus.
Banner University Medical Center ICU nurse Emily Beck, who works on the COVID floor, was the first in line.
"We're seeing the worst of the worst. We're seeing a lot of patients die and when they die, they're by themselves," she said.
Dr. Jennifer O'Hea came straight from her night shift at Banner University Medical Center. She was exhausted after another tough night in the ICU. She said two more patients died overnight from COVID.
"We are just seeing so much tragedy, it's very sad. For us to finally have the beginning of a way out is so exciting," said Dr. O'Hea.
For these frontline workers, these vaccines finally give them a reason to be hopeful.
"You know, my mom is elderly and has some medical problems so really for me, this means I can hug my mom," said Dr. Ara Feinstein, a Banner trauma critical care physician.
"We all want just to stay healthy so we can take care of people, so we feel very lucky to be here today. And with privilege comes responsibility to keep showing up to work, and we'll do that," said Dr. O'Hea.
It was an incredibly joyous day for so many who've battled the pandemic head-on. HonorHealth received about 10,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine earlier this week and on Thursday after weeks of planning, delivering to hundreds of frontline health care workers.
“I’m not afraid, my mother told me not to be afraid, so I’m going to get the vaccine,” said HonorHealth Trauma Surgeon Dr. Alicia Mangram.
Mangram knows fear well and she’s seen it firsthand. Most recently in the eyes of those fighting this terrible virus without loved ones by their side.
"I can't imagine being alone, these people don't have anyone around except for a nurse," said Dr. Mangram. “One of my colleagues’ fathers caught COVID and I remember a moment where we weren’t sure if he would live or die.”
She’s now one of the first health care workers in the state to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
“I just want everybody to get it, not just me,” said Mangram after receiving the injection at the drive-thru vaccination site near the I-17 and Loop 101.
Kim Post is one of dozens of volunteers administering the shot.
“It’s an honor," said Post. “I have rounded in some of our ICUs and it’s pretty sobering to see the number of patients that are so incredibly sick, seeing the teamwork at these hospitals has been inspiring.”
More than 750 health care workers will be vaccinated at the HonorHealth site Thursday but officials add they can quickly scale up to around a thousand a day in the coming weeks.
“We realize how precious those vaccines are and we want to get them to our health care workers and first responders so today is the first day of a two-week run,” said Michelle Pabis, HonorHealth Vice president of government and community affairs.
A run that should end with more than 15,000 people vaccinated at this site alone. It’s only the beginning but for many, it’s a goal that seemed unattainable just a few months ago.
“The biggest thing that’s going on through my head is, you know, maybe I won’t have to worry as much about my family, my in-laws, my mother,” said Dr. Mangram.
And maybe, one day soon, none of us will.