By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Yukon residents are being strongly advised to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.
“Just like the people long ago who stood in line for the Smallpox vaccine, the Polio vaccine or the first flu vaccines, be a pioneer and help to stop the pandemic,” Mayor Shelli Shelli Selby said.
“If not for your health, then for your loved ones.”
INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital CEO Teresa Gray invited State Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas’ field representative Grace Enmeier and Mayor Selby to witness last week’s “phase one” roll-out of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“As I watched employee after employee willingly walk up for the vaccine, I stood in awe of all their hard work and sacrifices they have made over the past nine months,” Selby reported at the Dec. 17th Yukon COVID-19 Task Force meeting.
The elected officials stopped in the hospital’s intensive care unit and walked the halls of the COVID floor during their visit.
“I listened as a nurse described how much death she had seen since COVID started,” Mayor Selby shared with task force members. “They are in the jobs of saving lives – and resolving themselves to the fact that some patients are going to die is difficult.”
On the hospital’s third floor, staff members were working hard opening another wing to accept more COVID patients.
“The urgency was not missed,” Selby said.
Two patients in the hospital’s emergency room were waiting for ICU beds because the unit was full.
“The only way a hospital bed in the ICU becomes available is when someone dies,” Selby noted.
Oklahoma’s front-line health care workers, emergency medical personnel, first responders, nursing home residents, other senior citizens, and teachers are being prioritized during the vaccine distribution.
Maggie Jackson, community liaison at the Canadian County Health Department, told the COVID-19 Task Force that 60% of health care workers at INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital had signed up Dec. 17 to receive the vaccine.
“I am excited to witness history in the making,” Jackson told task force members. “But we have to remember, this is a two-shot process.
“You take your first shot, then 21 days later, you take the second shot but are still not immune for a few days. Do not take your mask off after the first shot thinking you are immune. It is a layering effect.”
Jackson hopes more people will be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine after seeing that health care workers received doses with no negative reaction.
Mayor Selby said she saw the weariness in the eyes of nurses, techs and other staff during the recent Yukon hospital visit.
“But when you mentioned the vaccine, their eyes lit up,” she shared. “I saw hope. I thanked them for their service and dedication, but it felt so feeble in the midst of all they were doing.”
WEAR YOUR MASK
While there is “hope at the end of the tunnel,” Yukon’s mayor begged people to wear a face covering when in public.
“We still have people dying or sick and off work with no pay,” Selby said. “Hopefully, the end is coming, and we won’t have to social distance or wear masks.
“But until then we have to do our part. Our nurses and doctors are doing way more than theirs.”
The City of Yukon does not have a mask mandate like Oklahoma City, although many businesses require their customers to wear face coverings in their stores.
A COVE UPDATE
Spanish Cove Retirement Village CEO Don Blose told the COVID-19 Task Force there were 0 residents testing positive and two health care workers with the virus at Yukon’s largest senior community.
A majority of Spanish Cove’s health care workers and residents say they’ll take the vaccine when it arrives there soon. Many people who are more reluctant will take it the second time around.
Blose explained that new vaccines today have a 1 in 1 million chance of having a serious adverse reaction.
Among other noteworthy items from the Dec. 17th Yukon COVID-19 Task Force meeting:
- Some 27 City of Yukon employees were out after either testing positive or being exposed to the virus. City Manager Jim Crosby returned to work about being quarantined.
- Yukon Chamber of Commerce CEO Pam Shelton reported no businesses “went under” although many are struggling. She will share information on small business loans now available.
- 13 students were in the Cove Academy, which recently reopened for Spanish Cove health care workers’ children attending virtual school.
- The “Signal 99” code is being used when the Yukon Fire Department responds to COVID-related calls.