Dr. Bill Crowley receives his dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Mimi Nguyen, RN, Wednesday at Memorial Medical Center. (DD Turner/Wave photo)

Memorial Medical Center received 300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday and moved to vaccinate health care providers as soon as the vaccine thawed.

“This is the best Christmas present,” Jeanne Wilcox, CRN-A at MMC said, while waiting in line to fill out paperwork and have her temperature taken.

This round of vaccine will be used for healthcare and frontline providers such as physicians and nurse practitioners, those in ICU or the emergency room and med/surgery as well as EMS, home health providers and pool nurses, according to Erin Clevenger, chief nursing officer for MMC.

Memorial Medical Center Chief of Staff Dr. Richard Arroyo-Diaz took the first dose, giving a thumb’s up as it was injected into his arm Wednesday afternoon in the hospital’s community room.

“This is the beginning of the end of a long, painful pandemic in which we lost too many people,” said Arroyo-Diaz, whose brother-in-law died of the virus in September. “I wish he could be here with us.”

Arroyo-Diaz said it is important for people to get the vaccine to begin to process of ending the pandemic.

“I want to emphasize that it is important to get the vaccine. I know people are reserved and fearful of the vaccine and that’s understandable,” he said. “But consider the implications – on the one hand you can get the disease with the potential loss of life or get the vaccine and minimal side effects. It’s a no brainer.”

Dr. Arroyo-Diaz noted that vaccines are marvels of science used to eradicate diseases before and “this is too.”

Dr. Paul Bunnell, who was waiting his turn for the vaccination, said one of the reasons the vaccine could be created quickly was that Chinese officials released the genetic code that allowed researchers to hone in on the messenger RNA that triggered the virus.

By everyone getting the vaccine, the virus will lose its ability to transfer to another person, he said.

“It’s so cool, getting the vaccine,” said Haley Yarbrough, CRN-A with MMC.

She is taking part in a study of the vaccine on breast milk. While it has been deemed safe for pregnant and new mothers, she said there was not that much research on it, so this study is to provide that research. A second dose of the vaccine will be given to those who received this round.