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‘It brings a lot of hope’: First North Texans to receive coronavirus vaccine call it a step toward normalcy

Methodist Dallas was the first North Texas hospital to receive a shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was being administered within two hours of arrival Monday.

It was about 10:10 a.m. on Monday when a round of applause rang out inside Methodist Dallas Medical Center. 

51-year-old Teresa Mata made history. The mother of four and an environment services worker who cleans the Methodist emergency room was the first North Texan to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Chad Bush was the fourth.

“The nurse was great and I was focusing on taking a selfie, so I didn’t even realize that she had given me the shot,” he said with a laugh.

He was pain-free a few minutes after 10 a.m. and almost pain-free when he talked with WFAA eight hours later.

“I feel great,” he said on Monday evening. “My arm is a little sore. But other than that, no problems whatsoever.”

Bush is a CT technologist at Methodist. He performs cat scans.

Since March he’s been face to face with patients infected by the coronavirus.

“The stress levels I’ve felt the last nine months have been far and above any other stress I’ve ever felt,” he said. “You know, you’re always wondering, ‘Is today the day I’m going to get COVID?’”

Bush said he has diabetes and high blood pressure – two conditions that put him at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.

But he wasn’t as worried about his own health as that of his elderly mother.

She lives with him and is battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

“We are both high-risk individuals,” Bush said.

“That’s been my biggest fear the entire time is that I bring it home to my mother. That is a stress I don’t wish on anybody.” 

Methodist did not allow television cameras inside to document the vaccine distribution.

But the hospital did provide video of the shots being given and provided interviews with staff members.

“We’ve seen a lot of unfortunate devastation with this,” ICU nurse Jennifer Allen said, admitting she was overwhelmed to be one of the first to be vaccinated. “It brings a lot of hope.”

Dr. Brad Seller, an emergency room physician said he felt cautiously optimistic after receiving his shot.

“It’s not over. We’re not going to be able to take the shot and just take our masks off. We’re encouraged, but there’s still a long way to go,” he said.

He said it’s important for the general public to see medical professionals volunteering to take the vaccine to show there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“If you want to stop wearing a mask, this is the first step to do that,” he said.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots, given about three weeks apart from each other. It then takes a couple of weeks after the second dose, called a booster, for someone to develop antibodies.

RELATED: Tarrant County prepares for first deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines

Bush is scheduled to receive the second dose on Jan. 4, so by mid-to-late January, he hopes to have developed antibodies to protect him from COVID-19.

Methodist began administering the COVID-19 shots just two hours after UPS delivered a shipment of 5,850 doses.

The hospital planned to vaccinate more than 100 frontline, patient-facing employees Monday, with vaccines continuing Tuesday.

Methodist expects to give all 5,850 doses within the next few weeks.

But the hospital is being strategic about who gets a vaccine when.

Because the shot could cause side effects that might cause staff to call in sick, the hospital won’t vaccinate entire units or departments all at once.

Bush knows nothing changes just because he’s received the first shot.

The pandemic in North Texas is at its worst point yet – with Dallas County reporting more than 1,100 new COVID cases every day since December 5.

RELATED: COVID-19 updates: Tarrant County reports more than 20 deaths for 4th consecutive day

“I’m still going to wear my N95 respirator, my eye protection and my gowns. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had the vaccine or not, it’s not a time to stop being diligent about protecting yourself and others,” he said.

But he does hope the heavy burden he’s been carrying on his shoulders the last nine months might begin to feel lighter soon. 

“I think I can speak for all my fellow healthcare workers when I say we are beyond tired, we are beyond stressed out, we are beyond burned out. So, if taking this vaccine can help my fellow coworkers, I feel that it was my duty to do that.”