JOPLIN, MO.–A Mercy Joplin doctor was the first in Joplin to get the vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus.


The Pfizer vaccine, which just received emergency use authorization Friday from the FDA, arrived at Mercy Hospital Joplin about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday. It was quickly moved into the ultra-cold freezer, set aside for its storage. From there, pharmacy staff began the process of thawing the vaccine in a designated refrigerator.

In all, six doses were administered at Mercy Joplin on Tuesday. In order, Dr. Eden Esguerra, an infectious disease specialist; Dr. William Craig, a cardiologist; Dr. Lydia Espinoza-Morales, a hospitalist; Judy Russell, a nurse practitioner; Donna Stokes, infection preventionist; and Kevin Manning, chief nursing officer, received the first doses in Joplin.

“Mercy thanks our co-workers who are the first in this community to receive the vaccine for setting the example that it is safe and effective,” said Jeremy Drinkwitz, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “This is a step we should all take to bring an end this pandemic. Still, we know it will take time for the vaccine to protect everyone, so please continue to mask, social distance, wash your hands frequently, and, if you haven’t already, get a flu shot.”

Plans are not in place yet for public vaccinations. When those supplies arrive, Mercy will work with its health care partners, including local health departments, to inform the public and distribute the vaccine.