ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The first vaccinations against COVID-19 were given in New Mexico this week. They are a relief to the people who, for months now, have been on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus.
If you think nine months of face masks, social distancing, and lockdowns have been hard, listen to the people on the front lines. “We’re tired, we’re exhausted, you know. It’s definitely a different vibe as a healthcare worker,” says Chris Gonzalez, Assistant Nurse Manager at Presbyterian’s Intensive Care Unit.
For months now, Gonzalez has been seeing up close, the worst that COVID can do. “When you see mother, father, sister, brother, dying from the same unit, and one of them just walking home without any family members left, it takes a toll on just everyone. Everyone who works in the ICU,” Gonzalez says. “It definitely changes your life. It changes your way of appreciating life.”
Gonzalez has been caring for COVID patients at work and then hoping, praying, he doesn’t bring COVID home to his family. “I have a child at home with special needs. You know, nine months of trying to protect her from COVID, it’s been a battle. Luckily, she hasn’t gotten it, thank God,” says Gonzalez.
So, when Gonzalez got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday, it wasn’t just for him. “This is great to know that we’re moving forward to vaccination and hopefully, this will help change the course of this virus,” Gonzalez says.
Presbyterian has 10,000 employees in direct patient care positions. This week, 3,900 of them will get the vaccine. On Friday, hospitals in rural New Mexico – like Ruidoso, Clovis, Tucumcari, and Socorro – will start immunizations.