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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nurses are among the frontline workers first in line for the vaccine. This comes at a time when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, and many say this is giving them hope. 

Once you clock in the work never stops. The life of an ICU nurse during a pandemic is hard, but for many it’s rewarding. 

Bethan Piggott is a nurse at the University of Kansas Health System. She’s been one for two years — nearly half the time in a pandemic.

“It’s been really difficult because each of these patients matter, and they have these full lives, and they deserve time and they deserve the best and we’re doing our best to give them that but sometimes, despite our best efforts, we still lose them. And it’s heartbreaking every single time,” Piggott said.

Wednesday, Britan became the first in the world to grant emergency approval for the Pfizer vaccine. Missouri and Kansas are expecting a roll out by the end of the month.

Heidi Lucas, the director of the Missouri Nurses Association, says nurses across the state are looking forward to stopping the spread with help of the vaccine.

“We are encouraging everybody from both our nursing and healthcare staff, as well as the general public, once it becomes available, to go ahead and take it. All the research is showing that it’s safe and very, very effective. And so we are very much looking forward to that rollout,” Lucas said.

Kristin Sollars is an ICU nurse with St. Luke’s Health System and has been at the bedside for fifteen years. She is grateful to scientists who are working tirelessly to push their research forward to get the vaccine out as soon as they can. While the rollout is coming, the nurses know the public they care for will still be waiting until at least April.

“What a relief is kind of what they’re that first thought is, Oh, thank goodness, you know that there’s some kind of help coming our way,” Sollars said.

“I can’t get my hopes up too soon. This has been the most devastating eight months I think I’ve ever dealt with in my nursing career. And so I just I think we’re at the point now where we’re kind of in the depths of the barrel. And, you know, we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel quite yet,” Piggott said.

Lucas said they are looking at plans to have nursing students in Missouri help distribute the vaccine, but nothing has been decided yet.