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COVID-19 vaccine given to first wave of staff at Children's National Hospital

Group represents cross-section of frontline workers and hospital CEO

Dr. Joelle Simpson receives the COVID19 vaccine

Today, Joelle Simpson, M.D., an emergency room physician, became the first Children's National Hospital frontline worker to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, marking the start of a process to vaccinate staff members throughout the organization.

“I’ve been working on the front line since the pandemic began and our emergency departments are in areas with some of the highest rates of COVID-19,” said Dr. Simpson, who is interim chief of the Emergency Department and medical director of Emergency Preparedness at Children’s National. “In order to keep our staff safe and protected, and in order to serve our patients and continue to provide world class care, it’s so important that we get the vaccine. I feel honored to help lead the way.”

Lucia Castillo, clinic operations representative at Children’s National Columbia Heights, Sandra Grosicki, respiratory therapist at Children’s National, and Callie Bove, Surgical Care Unit nurse at Children’s National, were the next three staff members to receive their vaccinations, followed by Kurt Newman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Children's National. They are the first of 725 employees who will receive the vaccine as part of the first distribution wave.

“I’ve received a lot of feedback from our teams over the past few weeks, and I believe my early participation will help inspire employee confidence in getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Newman. “Children’s National has been treating COVID-19 patients since the beginning of this pandemic, and it’s important that our employees are protected. The vaccines offer hope for ending this crisis. However, as we vaccinate additional employees, it will be more important than ever to remain focused on wearing masks, physically distancing and practicing good hygiene.&rdquo

Grosicki, a 14-year employee who works primarily in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, says seeing the toll COVID-19 has had on her patients motivated her to get the vaccine.

“I was extremely excited to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Grosicki. “This is for not only the protection of myself but also to promote and encourage as many people as possible to participate in getting the vaccine. This is how we are going to get through the pandemic.”

Of the 725 vaccines, approximately a third will go to nursing staff, a third will go to physicians, and the rest will go to other departments including clinical support and management. Employees were selected from a wide variety of departments across the organization.

On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization for a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older. The emergency use authorization allowed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. The first shipment of vaccines arrived at Children's National on Tuesday, December 15, and are only available for health care workers at this time. The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for Children's National employees. 

Media contact: Diana Troese |  202-476-4500

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