Norwegian American Hospital gives health care workers first batch of COVID-19 vaccine

Norwegian American Hospital received 150 doses of the vaccine Thursday morning.

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Dr. Emanuel Favela is vaccinated at a news conference at Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park n December of 2020.

Dr. Emanuel Favela is vaccinated at a press conference to administer the first COVID-19 vaccinations to Latino healthcare workers at the Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Norwegian American Hospital administered its first series of COVID-19 vaccines to five of its health care workers Thursday afternoon.

“We need this little thing, a syringe full of just a few drops of life and hope, so we can all start to get some normalcy,” said Dr. Abha Agrawal, chief medical officer at the Humboldt Park hospital, 1044 N. Francisco Ave..

“I’m excited, I am honored to be part of this day and I am just full of hope and relief as we are looking to the days ahead to the end of this very long and dark time.”

The vaccines administered at Norwegian American came from the 150 doses it received Thursday morning. By late afternoon, 35 people had been vaccinated; the hospital anticipates using up all 150 doses by Monday morning.

Jose Sanchez, the hospital’s president and CEO, said it was vital that his hospital was among the sites receiving a portion of the early vaccine shipments, since the Latino and African American community it serves in Humboldt Park has been hit especially hard with the coronavirus.

“Latino and African American minorities are more affected than anyone else in our city, in our state, in our country,” Sanchez said. “The city’s, as you know, positivity rate is approximately 10%. Here in the Humboldt Park community, in our community, the positivity rate is 36%, which is more than 3 times the rest of the population in our state.”

President and CEO of Norwegian American Hospital Jose R. Sanchez speaks about the importance of health care workers during the pandemic at a press conference to administer the first COVID-19 vaccinations to Latino healthcare workers at the Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park,

Jose R. Sanchez, president and CEO of Norwegian American Hospital, speaks at a press conference to administer the first COVID-19 vaccinations to Latino healthcare workers at the hospital in Humboldt Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Sanchez said those dying of COVID-19 also are disproportionately Black and Latino. This is why, he said, it is important health care workers receive their vaccines so they can continue to have full staffing to treat patients.

Sanchez said he expects to start receiving weekly shipments of vaccines but urged people to make sure they get the two doses they need for the vaccination to work.

Those getting the first dose are given a card reminding them to return for their second dose in 21 days. Agrawal also said the hospital would be diligent in calling patients when it’s time for the second dose.

Dr. Emanuel Favela, a physician at Norwegian, said he’s never experienced what COVID-19 has done to patients in his entire career.

“These past nine months in Chicago, there’s been as much suffering from a respiratory illness as I’ve ever seen in my career,” Favela said before receiving his first vaccine shot. “I’m excited to take the first step to ending this pandemic and setting a good example for my colleagues and my patients.”

For registered nurse Denise Flores, it was important she did her part by getting the vaccine.

“I have a family and I have a 3-year-old son who I need to protect, so it’s the responsible thing to do,” Flores said.

A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine at a press conference to administer the first COVID-19 vaccinations to Latino healthcare workers at Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park.

A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine at a press conference to administer the first COVID-19 vaccinations to Latino healthcare workers at Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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