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400 Mercy Health employees get early Christmas present — vaccines

On Tuesday, Mercy Health Youngstown received a shipment of 4,800 Moderna coronavirus vaccine doses, and about 400 Mercy Health employees were vaccinated.
Mercy Health vaccination 12222020
A Mercy Health Youngstown employee receives the Moderna coronavirus vaccine Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Mercy Health Youngstown)

YOUNGSTOWN — There's a light at the end of this painful pandemic tunnel, and it's not an oncoming train. 

On Tuesday, the local Mercy Health system received a shipment of 4,800 Moderna coronavirus vaccine doses, and about 400 employees were vaccinated, said Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Jim Kravec.

Included in the Mercy Health system are St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, Elizabeth Boardman Hospital, St. Joseph Warren Hospital and primary care and other specialty care facilities throughout the Valley

The Ohio Department of Health announced Tuesday it received 89,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Mercy Health is not yet aware if it will receive doses from that shipment, officials said. The Moderna shipment had been designated for hospital employees. 

Mercy Health employees are not required to get the vaccine, but it is highly recommended, Kravec said. While some employees want to wait a bit before getting vaccinated, Kravec said he was happy with the number of employees interested in getting vaccinated. 

"We have a responsibility as community members to really take this very seriously," said Kravec.

This includes maintaining coronavirus-prevention hygiene practices after getting vaccinated.

When asked if people who receive the vaccine can toss away their masks and cozy up to strangers in the check-out line, Kravec said, "Absolutely not."

"We cannot have big Christmas parties with our extended families," he added. 

Since it will take months to achieve immunity in the community, it's important that people continue to wear masks and social distance. Experts also don't yet know if people who receive the vaccine are still able to carry and spread the virus.

"It's going to take a period of time," Kravec said, to discover that information.

Although the process has only just begun, the mood among local health officials is celebratory. 

"It feels like Christmas came just a bit early," said Jonathon Fauvie, spokesperson for Mercy Health Youngstown. 

Mercy Health Market President John Luellen agreed: "It's a remarkable day for us in the Mahoning Valley."

Jess Hardin

About the Author: Jess Hardin

Jess Hardin is a reporter for Mahoning Matters. She grew up in Pittsburgh and last worked at The Vindicator. Jess graduated from Georgetown University.
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