Mercy doctor receives first vaccine in Fort Smith

A. Drew Smith
Times Record
Dr. Casey Lindsey received the first COVID-19 vaccine in Fort Smith on Tuesday.

A trauma director for Mercy’s critical access hospitals in Booneville, Ozark, Paris and Waldron, was the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at Mercy Fort Smith on Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Candy Lindsey receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Zoe Hathaway, RN, on Tuesday afternoon at Mercy Fort Smith.

Mercy front-line staff who have cared for patients throughout the pandemic are among the first in Fort Smith to get the vaccine to fight the virus, a Mercy spokesperson stated.

The physician points to the vaccine as a means to reach an end of the current pandemic.

“The reason I wanted to get this vaccine quickly is because I want to help others feel comfortable, knowing that this is safe, and that those of us in health care support it. We want to do what’s best for our community as well as fellow co-workers, so here I am today, ready,” Lindsey said.  She believes the vaccine is the best way for society to "be safe and have normal gatherings again." Her main goal is to encourage others and make sure they feel safe about the vaccine.

Mercy received one box of doses that contains 975 doses. This will be the first of two doses. The second dose is set to be administered three weeks after the first.

Lindsey has been with Mercy for four and a half years.

The Pfizer vaccine, which just received emergency use authorization Friday from the FDA, arrived at Mercy Hospital Fort Smith around 9:40 a.m. Tuesday. It was quickly moved into the ultra-cold freezer set aside for its storage. From there, pharmacy staff began the process of thawing the vaccine in a designated refrigerator. 

Mercy caregivers will be prioritized for the vaccine, based on state guidelines, with those working directly with COVID-19 patients receiving it first. 

“This is an important day for our community and for Mercy,” said Dr. Paul Bean, chief medical officer at Mercy Fort Smith. “It is so important for the general public to get the vaccination and for our co-workers to get it. It’s going to protect us from COVID. The risk associated with this is for the folks who don’t take the vaccine, not for the ones who do.” 

The first vaccine in Arkansas was administered in Northeast Arkansas on Monday. Baptist Health - Fort Smith also received a shipment of vaccines and administered them on Tuesday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in his weekly press briefing Tuesday that he expected to hear on Friday when the second round of vaccines will be available for the state. He also said he expects the vaccine to be widely available by spring 2021.

More:COVID-19 vaccines given at Baptist Health-Fort Smith

Hutchinson previously noted that the majority of cases were coming from social gatherings rather than retail stores or restaurants. While this may be the case, ADH Secretary Jose Romero acknowledged that they rely on people to be honest when asked contact tracing questions.

This is the first vaccine to receive emergency approval from the FDA. Another vaccine from Operation Warpspeed is from Moderna and is set to come before the FDA later this month.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have developed two-dose vaccines, where the first dose is administered three to four weeks before the second. Johnson & Johnson is developing a one-dose vaccine.