‘I feel joy today’: MUSC Health Florence administers COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers

MUSC Florence administers first COVID-19 vaccine

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - MUSC Health Florence and Marion Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rami Zebian said he’s seen the devastating effect of COVID-19 on patients over the last ten months.

But after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, he finally feels like there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

“I was scratching deep to find any optimistic terminology to use and I feel joy today and like this is starting to end,” said Zebian.

Zebian was one of nearly 160 healthcare workers at MUSC Health Florence and Marion to receive the drug Wednesday.

There are skeptics of the vaccine, so Zebian is trying to start a conversation.

He’s wearing a tag on his coat that reads “Ask me if I’m taking the COVID-19 vaccine” to get patients and healthcare workers asking questions.

“When I walk up to people some may be a little shy and say I don’t want to ask him, but I’m encouraging people to walk up to me and ask me if I’m taking the vaccine and if they have concerns or questions, let’s talk about it,” said Zebian.

Zebian said he’s received questions about the vaccine’s approval process, but he’s reassured by the FDA’s process and the drug’s trials.

“This is something that we know what’s in it. It’s faced phase one trials, phase two trials, phase three trials. We know what the safety profile of it is, we know how much it’ll be protective,” he said.

While it is strongly encouraged, hospital employees aren’t required to take the vaccine.

Zebian believes everyone should get vaccinated but doesn’t think forcing people to is the right approach.

“I believe that nothing that is mandatory goes a long way, I believe this, having a conversation, I believe everyone wants to do the right thing and if everyone doesn’t agree on the right thing then that’s on me to have a better conversation,” he said.

The healthcare workers who received the vaccine today will get a second dose in three weeks.

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