On Wednesday, Sheryl Swiger, a Baldwin County resident, was among the first people in the nation, and around the globe, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Swiger, a nurse and director of Infirmary's Center for Wound Healing, Wound and Ostomy and Outpatient Infusion Therapy Departments, called the moment “exciting.”
“As an older health care worker working around positive Covid patients, I feel very excited to get the vaccine on the first day Infirmary Health is offering it to their at-risk employees,” she wrote in an email to The Baldwin Times after the inoculation. “This gives me hope and an added measure of peace of mind. It allows me to continue working and supporting the fight.”
Swiger said receiving the shot felt like receiving the annual flu vaccine and was not unlike other vaccines she has previously had.
Since the Coronavirus began to spread in March of this year, Swiger’s team at Infirmary Health has worked around the clock to provide care to those who became infected with the virus.
She said while she has been lucky and avoided becoming infected, she has had several employees, peers and family members who have caught it. Their reactions ranged from mild to “pretty sick” she said.
Serving the community during a pandemic has been challenging, she said.
“As a nurse, it's been gut-wrenching to watch what our frontline healthcare workers have endured to provide care at our hospital and across the nation. We have appreciated all the support within our hospital and our local communities,” she said.
At Mobile Infirmary, Swiger and her team sees COVID-19 patients who are at high risk for developing complications early in their diagnosis. The patients are given a monoclonal antibody infusion that may help prevent their conditioning from worsening and keep them from being hospitalized. This therapy is also offered to patients at Thomas Hospital in Fairhope and North Baldwin Infirmary in Bay Minette.
As the number of daily positive cases continues to rise in Baldwin County and across the nation, Swiger said she wants people to understand the severity of the situation.
“The nursing shortage is real, patients are dying, people are experiencing intense isolation, economically families are suffering, and we all need to do whatever we can do to stop the virus,” she said. “Protect yourself and those around you. Please wear your mask, wash your hands frequently and get the vaccine when it is available to you.”