Veteran nurse says administering vaccine is the highlight of her career

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery health care workers rolled up their sleeves Wednesday, making history as the first to receive the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the region.

It was an emotional day for many who’ve weathered the greatest storm of their professional lives over the last nine months.

For veteran nurse Donna Pugh, Wednesday marked the most meaningful days of her career.

“It is a huge milestone in the past 40 years in my career. It will definitely be the most remembered,” stated Pugh.

Pugh started her career at Baptist Health 40 years ago as a bedside nurse. Now, she leads the employee health team, which cares for those who are taking care of everyone else.

“What a historic year to be in employee health,” Pugh remarked.

As front line workers fell critically ill with the virus, Pugh longed for the day she could help protect them.

“We knew this was going to be the answer, so to speak,” Pugh said of the COVID vaccines.

That’s why ago she put her experience to work months ago, monitoring every vaccine trial, anticipating this day would eventually arrive. Never imagining it would exceed all expectations.

“Any vaccine that’s about 50% effective is great and this one being in the 90s is historic in itself,” she explained.

When Pugh received word the vaccines arrived on the loading dock Tuesday morning, she and her team quickly took action preparing areas to administer the vaccines.

“Oh it was 100% relief,” Pugh described. “We had been just waiting for it just any day and it was a phenomenal feeling for sure.”

Pugh will now be at the tip of the spear, administering vaccines for anyone in the system who needs it. A banner day in a long, accomplished career.

“To provide that hope, given what we’ve been through these past nine months,” she reflected. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, we are going to be able to protect our team members, our patients, our community. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be part of this process.”

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