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COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin In Metro East

On December 18, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland administered the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to hospital colleague Amanda Ennen, RN, DNP, director of emergency department and respiratory services for St. Joseph’s Hospitals in Highland and Breese.  All of the vaccines were administered smoothly and safely.

The doses were administered to clinical colleagues providing direct patient care, all of who voluntarily consented to receive the vaccine.  At this time, Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) is not requiring its colleagues to receive the vaccination, although they are recommending colleagues receive the vaccine when it is available to them.

HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital will be following the CDC guidelines to determine during which phases their colleagues will receive the vaccine. Locally, they will continue to work closely with the Madison County Health Department.

Ennen shared why she wanted to get the vaccine. “I believe this is our best shot at ending this pandemic. I am doing this for my family, friends, our patients and myself,” she said. “The vaccine has the capability of getting us back together with our loved ones and returning us to some normalcy again.”

Dr. Robert Schaefer, HSHS Medical Group family medicine physician in Highland, Breese and O’Fallon, was the first physician to be vaccinated at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland. He shared, “I wanted to get vaccinated because I believe the vaccine is safe and a light at the end of the tunnel. This is another way that I can make sure that I stay safe and can keep my patients safe.”

HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vinay Bhooma shared, “This is an exciting time for our hospital as we are thrilled to be able to provide an additional level of protection for our colleagues who continue to provide exceptional and compassionate patient care in the midst of this pandemic.  It is the first of many steps to come, but the journey begins with one step,” he said. “We are grateful to have this a tool in our tool chest to combat this virus.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital still encourages people to do their part to decrease the number of COVID cases in the community. “Even though some doses of the vaccine have arrived, and more will be coming, we want to remind the community that the pandemic is not over,” Bhooma said. “We must continue to be diligent with hand washing, social distancing, masking and staying home when we are ill. For those who need care, we are always here so we are also encouraging community members to not delay their care.”

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