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Press Release First State Employee in the Commonwealth, a Janitorial Supervisor, Received COVID-19 Vaccination at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital

For immediate release:
12/18/2020
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Public Health

Media Contact for First State Employee in the Commonwealth, a Janitorial Supervisor, Received COVID-19 Vaccination at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital

Katheleen Conti, Department of Public Health

Sophal “Paula” Soth receiving the first vaccination for a Massachusetts state employee

BostonEarlier today, the first state employee in the Commonwealth received the COVID-19 vaccination at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital. This front-line worker is a janitorial supervisor who has worked at the hospital for 30 years. Lemuel Shattuck Hospital is a fully accredited teaching facility that provides acute, subacute, and ambulatory care to patients referred by public agencies and private sector providers.

The first state employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccination was front-line worker Sophal “Paula” Soth, 55, an Environmental Services Supervisor at Shattuck Hospital. Soth, a native of Cambodia, began working as a janitor at Shattuck 30 years ago and now supervises a janitorial team. Shattuck Chief Operating Officer Virginia McErlane and Chief Nursing Officer Justin Douglas were also present at the vaccination.

“The vaccination is important in helping protect me from COVID,” Soth said. “When I was told I had the opportunity to take the vaccine and that I was the first state employee, I felt honored.”

“The federal authorization and allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine has given us hope for the beginning of the end of this devastating pandemic,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “Today marks an important day in public health, and I am so appreciative of the hard work and commitment from each and every state employee during this unprecedented time.”

“I’m so pleased to see COVID-19 vaccination is taking place across the state, including in our public health hospitals,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “Massachusetts has placed equity at the core of our COVID response and it is essential that all of our front-line workers receive this critical vaccine.”

The Shattuck Hospital manages 255 inpatient beds, and an array of outpatient services, including surgical services, 26 outpatient specialty clinics and comprehensive radiological imaging and clinical laboratory services. The Hospital's services help economically and socially disadvantaged patients to get high quality, cost-effective care from a staff that respects their dignity.

On December 9, the Baker-Polito Administration announced allocation and distribution plans for the first round of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Massachusetts. The state’s first shipment of 59,475 doses of the Pfizer vaccine was ordered from the federal government on December 4 and was delivered directly to 21 hospitals across 8 counties, as well as to the State Public Health Laboratory. Doses were then redistributed for access to 74 hospitals across all 14 counties for front-line medical workers.

The next 40,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine will be allocated to the Federal Pharmacy Program to begin vaccinating staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities, rest homes and assisted living residences. The COVID-19 vaccine is being prioritized for these groups to reduce serious illness, maximize preservation of life, and to support the health care system. Based on information at this time, Massachusetts is expecting 266,000 first doses of the vaccine to be delivered by the end of December. The first vaccines, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer, will require two doses administered 3-4 weeks apart. 

Click here to view the administration’s vaccine website: www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine.

Click here to view the administration’s vaccine presentation

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions

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Media Contact for First State Employee in the Commonwealth, a Janitorial Supervisor, Received COVID-19 Vaccination at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital

Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is the largest secretariat in state government and is comprised of 12 agencies, in addition to 2 soldiers’ homes and the MassHealth program. Our efforts are focused on the health, resilience, and independence of the one in four residents of the Commonwealth we serve. Our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.

Department of Public Health 

DPH promotes the health and well-being of all residents by ensuring access to high-quality public health and healthcare services, and by focusing on prevention, wellness, and health equity in all people.
Image credits:  Nicolaus Czarnecki/Boston Herald, pool photographer
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