UT Medical donates COVID-19 ‘artifact’ to East Tennessee Historical Society

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The arrival of the novel coronavirus to East Tennessee happened one year ago this week, and the vaccines that were developed in response arrived months later.

Now, medical personnel are documenting history by donating a vial and syringe used in Knoxville’s first COVID-19 vaccination to the East Tennessee Historical Society and Museum.

Dr. Mark Rasnake, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, along with Jenn Radtke, manager of infection prevention at UT Medical Center made the delivery to East Tennessee Historical Society on Monday, March 8.

They delivered one of the first few syringes that were simultaneously administered on Dec. 17, 2020 to medical center frontline team members) used at the medical center.

The East Tennessee Historical Society will keep the vial in its own exhibition for six months, then it will be kept in the “Voices of the Land” exhibitions permanently.

UT Medical had kept all six vials after Dec. 17; but only one of these historical “artifacts” will remain at the historical society’s Gay Street location. The others are going to be displayed in the departments that were instrumental in making the vaccine rollout happen.

“The syringe was used on front-line nurse Krista Robinson, who works in a COVID unit at UT Medical Center. Krista and four other team members at the medical center received the vaccine simultaneously on Dec. 17. UT Medical Center Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Sandy Leake administered the vaccine to Krista,” said a hospital spokesman.

The medical center is administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“Dr. Mark Rasnake, hospital epidemiologist and an infectious disease physician at UT Medical Center, handed the first vial (five doses, so it covered the five team members who simultaneously received the vaccine first) to Warren Dockert, Ph. D., president and CEO of the East Tennessee Historical Society, while Jenn Radtke, manager of Infection Prevention at UT Medical Center, handed Dockert the first syringe,” the spokesman said.

The historical society is still collecting people’s COVID-19 related stories as part of that exhibit. People can send them journals, letters and crafts that were done during the pandemic by visiting here or send them an email.

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