The beginning of the end – the COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Southern Illinois.

Escorted by an Illinois State Trooper squad car a small transport service van carrying the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived on a windy and cold brisk Wednesday afternoon at the Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro. A group of visibly excited Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) employees were snapping photographs and making videos on their phones as the van and state trooper pulled up to the the Regional Hospital Coordinating Center.

Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) employees, Illinois State Police, regional law enforcement, and county health department employees converged in an orderly hand off of the vaccines that included checking the temperature of the vaccine via a readout from a digital thermometer attached to the box, signing paperwork and a ‘thank you’ before each box was whisked off to various counties in the region. The shipment of nine boxes of the Pfizer vaccine were part of the first 109,000 doses of the vaccine the State of Illinois received from the federal government.

The COVID-19 virus has caused more than 300,000 deaths of Americans and nearly 1,640,000 deaths worldwide during the past 12 months.