When the Cameron County Health Department called for assistance with administering COVID-19 vaccines in Harlingen, Michelle Davies, Verna Garza, Elvia Loera, and Lisa Phipps jumped into action.
The Harlingen CISD registered nurses took part in this historical moment in early January.
“I have been a practicing nurse for 29 years and I believe this was the highlight of my career,” Vela Middle School Nurse Verna Garza said. “It was just great to be part of such a huge health initiative. I hope more people go out there and get this vaccine, so we can continue to move forward.”
The event was only supposed to take a few hours, but the day was extended with the arrival of additional vaccines. HCISD Health Services and Wellness Coordinator Michelle Davies recalled the events of that day.
“The initial plan was to administer 1,000 vaccines, but the decision to increase to 2,000 came after a shipment of vaccines arrived mid-morning,” Davies said. “It was a very rewarding experience as we heard from so many community members the stories of why they chose to receive the vaccine. Some had lost loved ones to COVID, others were being vaccinated to protect a medically fragile family member.”
Many waited in line, in their cars, for hours to receive the vaccine.
“Many people stated they were getting this vaccine in memory of a loved one that passed due to COVID, and that left a lifetime memory in my heart,” Milam Elementary School Nurse Elvia Loera said. “There were so many emotions that day. There were tears of joy, tears of sadness, and tears of appreciation. I am grateful to work for a district that will allow us to collaborate with our surrounding community to provide the necessary means to help during these changes in history.”
Although it was a long day for the nurses and those waiting in line to receive their vaccine, the event brought great optimism to the community.
“People attending this event were extremely grateful and relieved to receive the vaccine,” Harlingen High School South Nurse Lisa Phipps said. “One of my favorite moments was seeing a joyful community member dance her way into the building, cheer after receiving the vaccine, and dance all the way out the door. It was a very positive dose of optimism. The rapid development of an effective vaccine is a flicker of light at the end of a dark tunnel. I was honored and blessed to have the opportunity to assist in this event and look forward to seeing an improvement in health throughout the Valley.”
Davies, Garza, Loera, and Phipps administered hundreds of vaccines each. They ended their day exhausted but with happy hearts.
“The volunteerism demonstrated by our nurses comes from their desire to serve our community,” Davies said. “They recognize that our involvement in the initial phases of the vaccine administration will eventually impact our school community as well. These outstanding nurses will continue to volunteer for future endeavors with Cameron County. We consider it an honor and privilege to serve our community.”