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Community Memorial Hospital begins COVID-19 vaccinations

The Cloquet hospital received its first shipment of 185 doses Monday.

ICU nurse Vicki Rostooan receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Shelly Demers, director of staff education and infection prevention, at Community Memorial Hospital Tuesday morning. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Shelley Demers, director of staff education and infection prevention at Cloquet's Community Memorial Hospital, administered the first COVID-19 shot Tuesday morning. The process of preparing for what she called "the beginning of the end" was an emotional one.

"I've been super-excited, but truly, really emotional," Demers, who oversees vaccine administration at the hospital, said. "When I finished the protocols and getting ready, I teared up. This is just such a moment."

Nearly two dozen people lined up outside a conference room at the hospital Tuesday, waiting to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine before the doors opened at 7:30 a.m.

Just moments before, Vicki Rostollan, an intensive care unit nurse, became the first employee to receive the vaccine. Rostollan works with COVID-19 patients every day.

To her, getting the vaccine was less about protecting herself from COVID-19 patients — something she's not too concerned about given all the personal protective equipment she wears — and more about playing her part in protecting the community.


COVID-19 vaccine
A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is drawn Tuesday at Community Memorial Hospital. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

"I just want the community to still be diligent about not passing it on. I feel I'm doing this to protect my co-workers, my community, my family," Rostollan said. "It's going to be a while before it's under control."

CMH received its first shipment of 185 vaccines Monday, Dec. 21, from its assigned "hub," Fairview Range Medical Center in Hibbing. Since CMH doesn't have the ultra-cold freezer the Pfizer requires, all of those doses need to be used within five days to avoid expiration. The hospital expects to receive a new shipment of vaccines every week, but officials don't know for sure.

CMH did not require employees to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine. People who fall under the first vaccination phase include employees who work in COVID-19 units and those who work in emergency medical services, including ambulance personnel and other emergency medical responders.

A pile of consent forms sits ready for staff at Community Memorial Hospital who received COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

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