FRANKLIN — Longtime staff member Dr. Roland Degeyter was the first person to receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine Wednesday after the hospital received its first batch of vaccines to combat the virus.

“I’m a firm believer in vaccines. I’ve been taking the flu shot since 1972-73. I think the world would be a lot different if we had no vaccines,” Degeyter said.

“The guy who invented the polio vaccine used an attenuated virus and used it first on himself and his family. That was really rolling the dice. But this vaccine is not the old method. There is a lot of advanced science behind this, and I’m excited to see what kind of results we get.”

Degeyter said the COVID-19 vaccine uses a messenger protein to tell your immune system, “make antibodies against the COVID-19 virus.”

“This vaccine isn’t going to attack your body. And it’s not going to cause COVID-19. Frankly, I’m in awe as to how it’s going to work.”

Degeyter said he is ready for the pandemic to slow down, so he is recommending to his patients, “take the vaccine, when it becomes available.”

“I would not recommend someone do something that I would not try. Some people who have immune or allergic problems, will not be able to take the vaccine. However, most can and should.”

Franklin Foundation Marketing Director Kevin Romero said the Pfizer vaccine will be given voluntary to the hospital’s frontline employees working in the Emergency Department, Medical and Surgical Department, Intensive Care Unit, Respiratory Therapy and other departments that are deemed at highest risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Stephanie Guidry, CEO of Franklin Foundation, said the vaccines are a welcome relief to the staff, whom she said have done an excellent job, especially working “stretched” over some schedules, to do a staff shortage in some instances.

She said the hospital has received 25 initial vials of the vaccine, at no cost to the hospital.

“The Pfizer vaccination is actually a two step process. Persons who receive it today, will have to come back in 21 days to receive a second inoculation,” Guidry said.

“This pandemic has been so stressful, yet my staff has done an outstanding job, especially for this community.”

Dr. Steven McPherson, M.D. who serves as one of the Hospitalists of Franklin Foundation in addition to Degeyter, said taking the vaccine vs. the devastation that COVID-19 has done in this country, was a no brainer for him.

“People should rest assured when it comes to taking the vaccine. I mean, it’s a simple choice. You might be sore after you take it, maybe you’ll have a headache, but I wouldn’t expect anything else,” he said.

“Rates are climbing, which makes this vaccine all the more urgent.”

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