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Day Two: Doctors Speak Out on the Value of Vaccination

Vaccinations begin at Duke Regional; Duke Raleigh to begin Thursday

Charles Alford gets a dose of COVID-19 vaccination at Duke Regional Tuesday.
Charles Alford gets a dose of COVID-19 vaccination at Duke Regional Tuesday. Left is Heather Mitchell, manager of patient placement and interpreter services, while patient safety officer Laurie Velez assists.

Vaccination rollout at Duke Health continued on Tuesday, with 15 staff members at Duke Regional volunteering to be among the hospital’s initial group to receive the historic shots shortly before noon.

The first person in line at Duke Regional was Charles Alford, director of respiratory therapy, who received cheers as he wrapped up with the vaccination team.

“I feel very honored, very pleased to be the first one,” Alford said, noting that respiratory therapists are at the front line of care with COVID-19 patients. “I was excited to be vaccinated and be in line to get protection from COVID-19 virus and set an example for my staff.

“Everyone here at the hospital and through Duke Health System is so pleased we’ve gotten the vaccine and started the process of giving our frontline caregivers the safety they deserve.”

Duke Regional will begin vaccinating about 30 people per day and will increase that number as the effort continues. Vaccinations are planned at Duke Raleigh on Thursday.

At Duke University Hospital, a second day of vaccinations included 30 people. Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, a family physician and co-leader of the LATIN-19 advocacy group spearheading COVID outreach to the Latinx community, said she was eager to demonstrate the safety and necessity of vaccination. She said the Latinx community and others have expressed hesitation about vaccination, citing concerns about safety.

“It’s a moment of hope because we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel,” Martinez-Bianchi said. “It’s not quite the end, but the vaccine sheds some light. It allows us to continue to move forward.”

Dr. Gabriela Maradiaga Panayotti, a pediatrician co-leader of the LATIN-19 initiative, said she wants to encourage others to consider receiving the vaccine.

“Science has worked really hard to make a vaccine that is safe and effective and I hope that when your time comes you will get it, too,” Maradiaga Panayotti said.

Both Martinez-Bianchi and Panayotti did video messages in English and in Spanish to share with the community about the value of vaccinations.