Doctors at Bothwell Regional Health Center were the first to receive the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Sedalia Friday morning at 10 a.m.

In a small room off the hospital's cafeteria, the first group of doctors were vaccinated by Sarah Wuellner, infection prevention nurse, and Leslie Stevenson, both from the BRHC Infection Prevention Department.

The vaccination is a two-step process. Those who received the vaccine Friday must return in 21 days for a booster shot of the same vaccine, explained BRHC CEO Lori Wightman.

“I think it's an exciting day,” Wightman remarked after the first group of doctors received their shot in the arm (in the deltoid muscle) to immunize them against the coronavirus.

Bothwell was fortunate in that the doses received in Sedalia were originally delivered to Benton County Public Health. Their order arrived Thursday. “They realized they would not be using their doses to vaccinate nursing home residents in Benton County. So they have transferred their 975 doses of Pfizer vaccine to us,” Wightman explained.

When asked if that was a surprise to the CEO of Bothwell, she said “Yes, but we have the sub-zero freezer that we received last Friday that was loaned to us from Gardner-Denver. It just worked out perfectly,” Wightman said. “Yes we have a place to store it, bring it over. We are ready to go.”

Wightman said a total of 18 doses would be given Friday altogether.

Bothwell's order will arrive on Monday or Tuesday. And that 500-dose shipment will come from Moderna, Wightman noted. Those taking the Moderna vaccine will have to wait 28 days between the initial shot and a follow-up, booster shot.

An FDA advisory panel comprised of experts voted 20-0 on Thursday that the benefits of the Moderna vaccine outweighed the risks for those 18 and older. Six million doses of the Moderna vaccine were shipped across the US over the weekend. It does not require drastically low storing temps like the Pfizer vaccine does. Vaccinations with the Moderna drug was expected to start Monday.

Last week, the panel said yes to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, leading to its authorization for emergency use the next day.

“We have a lot more vaccine than we first anticipated. So once we are done with our health care workers, I am coordinating with JoAnn Martin (Pettis County Health Center administrator), and Katy Trail Health Clinic. So we will vaccinate first responders,” Wightman said.

She estimated it would be sometime in March or April before the general public could be vaccinated.

“This vaccine is now on my list of 'miracles of modern medicine,'” Wightman stated.

Each vial contains five doses, or 0.3 ML per dose. But Wightman said they are learning they can get six or seven doses from a single vial.

Currently, there are 17.3 million cases of COVID-19 in the US, and there have been over 311,000 deaths during the pandemic.

In Missouri, there are over 378,000 cases, with over 5,100 deaths due to COVID-19.

And as of Monday, the Pettis County Health Center reported a total of 3,902 cases in the county, 593 of those are active. There are currently 20 hospitalized, and there have been 49 deaths in Pettis County due to COVID-19.