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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

ICU Nurse Is Cincinnati's First COVID-19 Vaccine Recipient

Courtesy of UC Health
Katie Walz, RN, in the cardiovascular ICU at UC Medical Center, was the first recipient of Pfizer's COVID vaccine.

The UC Medical Center is the first Cincinnati hospital to receive a shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and it wasted no time in thawing the doses and administering them to health care workers.

Around noon Monday, R.N. Katie Walz was the first recipient. She works in the cardiovascular ICU at UC Medical Center.

Walz says she wanted to do her part. "I've seen a lot of people suffer and die from COVID-19 and I'd like to do whatever we can to slow that process and to be an example for others to show that the vaccine is safe and worth getting."

The hospital says it is "administering its first vaccines to staff on the frontlines of COVID-19 to help keep them safe so they can continue to provide world-class care."

UC was one of two Ohio hospitals to receive 975 doses Monday. The other was Ohio State.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was present for when the first recipient of the vaccine got the dose at Ohio State. Shortly before then he spoke to reporters.

"This really is the day we've been waiting for," he said. "It starts the process of the end." While Gov. DeWine admitted the end is a long way away, he said it is in sight.

Tuesday eight other Ohio hospitals will receive 975 doses of the vaccine.

They will likely not include any other Cincinnati hospitals.

  • Tri-Health says it doesn't have a date yet.
  • Christ Hospital says it is possibly looking at next week.
  • Mercy says it doesn't have a certain time yet.

Hamilton County's Health Department is also awaiting shipment.
Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says the county will store its vaccines in an undisclosed warehouse. "We are not providing address information for security purposes," he says. "We do have an alarm system and cameras that work closely with the jurisdiction's police to make sure we're safeguarding the vaccine as appropriate."

The storage would house Hamilton County's allotment of vaccines to be distributed to county-run clinics and first responders. It could also handle storage for other agencies like hospitals should they need extra capacity.

Kentucky's first vaccine was administered at the University of Louisville. Other Kentucky hospitals receiving 975 doses were Baptist Health Lexington and the Medical Center at Bowling Green.

"Today is a historic day in the Commonwealth – we are at the beginning of the end of our war with COVID-19," said Gov. Beshear, who was at UofL Hospital as UPS delivered the vaccines.

St. Elizabeth tells WVXU its hospital will take shipment of the vaccine Tuesday and begin administering it Wednesday or Thursday.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.