First wave of Children’s National staff volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Joelle Simpson, interim chief of the emergency department, was given the first of two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Five of the 110 staff members who will be vaccinated this week at Children’s National Hospital received the first of two shots on Wednesday.

For now, Children’s National will vaccinate a total of 725 employees who face the greatest risk out of the more than 8,000 at the hospital.

Dr. Joelle Simpson, interim chief of the emergency department, was among them.

“I have to say, this is one of the most momentous occasions; I’m very excited to take the shot,” Simpson said, adding that she is reassured about the science behind the vaccine’s making.

Simpson has been a leader for the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes to continue taking on that role as the first to receive the shot here, as many others across the U.S. remain skeptical.

“If someone is willing and able to talk to you about it, get informed on the facts and the truth,” Simpson said.

Lucia Castillo is a clinical operations representative at the hospital’s Columbia Heights location, an area in the District with a high infection rate. She said receiving the vaccine alongside her colleagues is about protecting not only herself but her family and patients.

“I’m excited that I’m going to be protected. Soon, everybody will have it,” Castillo said.

Callie Bove is a nurse with the surgical care unit and works with COVID-19 patients everyday. She said she’s excited about protecting herself from catching and spreading the coronavirus.

The last to receive the vaccine Wednesday was hospital CEO Dr. Kurt Newman. Though the vaccine is not required here, he said as more data becomes available, that could change.

“We want to protect everyone and, sometimes, that’s the best way to do it in a pandemic situation,” Newman added.

He said in addition to the medical impacts on children, the psychological impact has been hard to face, making it more necessary for staff to be protected as they help patients recover.

“I’m so proud of our staff and the courage that they’ve got to take this vaccine,” Newman said. “They’re doing it not just for themselves, but for their families and for all the kids and families that we take care of.”


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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