Meet ICU nurse who was 1st in Houston to get COVID-19 shot

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- He's a 39-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas and now, he's made history becoming the first COVID-19 ICU nurse to receive the Pfizer vaccine at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

He also became the first person in the entire city of Houston to receive it. In a room full of cameras, a visibly emotional Robert Luckey got his dose on Tuesday morning.



Luckey's vaccination was met with much fanfare, the room erupting in applause.

"How do you feel?" asked a reporter.

"I feel fortunate," said Luckey. "I feel really fortunate to be able to have been the first person to actually receive the vaccine, considering how many people have been impacted by [COVID-19] itself. I just feel proud." he said.

Luckey was once a U.S. Marine until he chose to pursue a career in health care. After his stint in the military, he went back to school and became a registered nurse. He's been at Memorial Hermann hospital for nearly four years and has been working in its COVID-19 unit since the start of the pandemic, caring for about 38 patients currently battling the virus.

"I think during this time, it's not just the patients that we have to comfort that's in our care, but it's the family members because they're not able to come in and visit their family members," he said. "You're actually caring for the whole family in a sense."

Luckey said though there is speculation surrounding the vaccine's development, he said he willingly chose to take the vaccine on his own.

He called it both a rewarding and trying time.

"I think this is honestly like the light at the end of the tunnel for a lot of people, including myself. It's just an opportunity that we can start moving forward because, before this, you're taking care of the patients, you're comforting the patients, but at this point, I think with the vaccine, this actually is the first light that we see," Luckey.

According to health leaders in the state, healthcare providers or workers inside medical facilities, along with nursing home residents and staff, will be the first to get the vaccine. Officials say the focus is on facilities that indicated they will vaccinate at least 975 frontline health care workers since that is the minimum order for the Pfizer vaccine.

Additional shipments are expected to occur later in the week. In all, Texas was allocated 224,250 doses of vaccine to be shipped to 110 providers across the state in Week 1 of distribution.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Friday, Dec. 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then accepted a recommendation from an advisory committee for doses to be distributed to people ages 16 and older.

Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. However, experts say 60 to 80 percent of the population has to be vaccinated to potentially end the pandemic.

All this week, ABC13 is devoting a half hour to bring you the latest daily developments on how vaccines are being distributed in the area. ACTION 13: COUNTDOWN TO A VACCINE is everyday this week at 6:30 p.m. right here on ABC13. You can stream it free on demand and without a subscription on your favorite streaming devices, including Roku and Fire TV. Just search for the free ABC13 Houston app.

Watch live newscasts and in-depth reporting from ABC13 on your favorite streaming devices, like Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and AndroidTV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."

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