The end of the beginning: Ballad nurse becomes first in region to receive COVID vaccine


Above: Nurse Terese Castle immunizes Emily Boucher as Ballad executives Eric Deaton and Alan Levine look on.

Emily Boucher, a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Va., became the first individual in the region (outside of clinical trials) to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine Tuesday afternoon. Immediately afterward, other high-risk, frontline healthcare providers from Ballad’s Southwest Va., facilities began receiving the vaccine.

Said Boucher, “Today is an incredibly hopeful day. With this vaccine, my team members and I can be more assured that we are safer from the virus when we come to work every day.”

Before Boucher received her inoculation, Ballad Chairman and CEO Alan Levine told reporters, “Right now, the highest priority Ballad Health will be given to hospital-based frontline healthcare workers like Emily.” Ballad’s first batch of the vaccine arrived in Abingdon Tuesday morning. The first batch for Ballad in Tennessee is expected to arrive sometime Thursday. It will be distributed from locations in Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City. A second Virginia distribution center has also been set up in Norton.

“We do have to be mindful of each state’s individual guidelines and timelines for dispersal,” Levine said. “The supply of the vaccine is expected to increase steadily into 2021. We’re committed to making this vaccine available to everyone who wants it.”

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