In another first since the pandemic began, Madisonville Health and Rehab Center began administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

Center employees and residents lined up in the facility’s dining area where members of Walgreens’ pharmacist teams administered the vaccine.

Madisonville Health and Rehabilitation Center Administrator John Plunkett said Monday’s clinic was the first of three that will be held at the center.

“We have one scheduled at the end of the month and another in the middle of February to complete the series of clinics,” he said. “Today, I believe we have 42 residents and between 30 and 35 staff members who signed up for the first clinic.”

Plunkett called the beginning of vaccinations at the center exciting.

“This is one of the largest steps we have been able to take to reunite residents and families,” he said. “That itself is pretty emotional for them to be gone almost a year and now to be at this point where hopefully in the next couple of months they will be able to be reunited and gain some normalcy.”

Plunkett described keeping everyone safe at the facility during the pandemic.

“We definitely hunkered down, and I think we did an exceptional job,” he said. “I think our efforts have been validated through multiple infection control surveys by the state and, obviously, it is a lot of time, energy, regulatory changes and a lot of communication with the state and federal government. It has been taxing emotionally.”

Plunkett joined others in getting the first dosage of the vaccine.

“I think I can’t pass judgment on anybody one way or the other,” he said when asked about the vaccine debate going around the country. “I think we all have an obligation to do our due diligence in researching the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and really sit down and make a plan with our families and primary care physicians. Obviously, there are some people that may have some medical issues that may not line up with those vaccines.”

Plunkett said he believes the vaccines are safe.

“I think there’s a lot of information out there with the case studies that I have read that I believe that it is safe,” he said. “We have not skipped over any of the quality steps so I think if you can take it I would encourage you to.”

Other center employees like housekeeper Catherine Graham were waiting to get vaccinated.

Graham said she was excited but nervous at the same time as it came closer to her turn to receive the first dose of the vaccination.

Following the shot, Graham said there was no pain involved, adding that the flu shot she received earlier in the winter was worse.

Following vaccinations, each employee was given a T-shirt, a face mask and had their picture taken in front of a backdrop with a sign that allowed them to share why they chose to get vaccinated.