WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The first coronavirus vaccine in Kansas was administered one year ago in Kansas.

Intensive care nurse Kristen Garrett, left got the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis hospital on Dec. 14. 2021. (Courtesy: Kansas.com/Wichita Journalism Collaborative)

Dr. Maggie Hagan and nurse Kristen Garrett work at Ascension Via Christi in Wichita and were the first to get the vaccine on Dec. 14, 2020.

Hagan and Garrett talked about that experience a year later.

“It was a Monday morning, and we were expecting to do sort of a trial run how this was all going to go once we got vaccine, and we found out that morning that we actually had vaccine, and we were actually going to receive it that day, so it was pretty exciting for those of us that had been waiting such a long time to get that shot,” Hagan said.

“I was relieved last year when we were able to get the vaccine because it gave us a way to better protect ourselves so that we could care for all the patients with COVID-19 coming to us for care,” Garrett said. “This year, I am just sad because we have vaccines, yet we’re seeing another surge of critically ill patients with the virus and most of them are unvaccinated.”

Since this date one year ago, eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines expanded to anyone ages 5 or older, and they are widely available. As of Dec. 13, 61% of Kansans have now received at least one vaccine dose according to the KDHE.

Hagan said once the vaccine rolled out to the public, staff saw a sharp decline in hospitalizations. By mid-February, there were fewer cases. Those who were at the highest risk, who wanted the vaccine, were finally protected.

Unlike what the doctors had hoped for, the pandemic continues to live on.

“Unfortunately, since then, the virus has mutated and we had the delta wave hit us in the summer and into the fall,” said Hagan. “About 85% of our hospitalized patients have not been vaccinated.”

Both said they have learned the virus isn’t going away anytime soon, but the vaccine is helping them keep going.

“A year later, I don’t feel any less hope for that,” said Hagan. “I have more realism to know it’s not going to completely go away, but I still think the vaccine is our best hope to get beyond COVID.”

KSN story from Dec. 14, 2020: Coronavirus vaccines begin in Wichita

To find the coronavirus vaccine in Kansas, click here.