UofL doctor marks 2nd anniversary of becoming first Ky. COVID-19 vaccine recipient

It was literally the shot seen ‘round the Commonwealth.
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 5:14 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2022 at 7:18 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It was literally the shot seen ‘round the Commonwealth.

On Dec. 12, 2020, as COVID cases were raging and hospitals were filled to capacity, Dr. Jason Smith became the first in Kentucky to be vaccinated. Two years later, the chief medical officer for UofL Health still has the vial that contained his dose.

”It’s funny. It sits there and people are like, ‘what is that?’” Smith said. “And it’s a conversation starter. And it’s interesting when people see that sitting on my bookshelf or my desk, they all want to tell their story. I mean we all have stories of what it was like.”

In the two years since Smith rolled up his sleeve, hundreds of thousands in the Louisville Metro have followed his lead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 600,000 have received at least one dose. That’s more than 78 percent of the population. And like the virus, COVID vaccines are here to stay.

”I think we’re still learning a lot about the vaccines and how COVID is going to change in the future,” Smith said. “But it’s been very substantially impacting how people are going to live their lives.”

Smith’s comments come at a time when COVID cases are again on a seasonal rise. But total case numbers and hospitalizations remain relatively low. Much of the state including Jefferson County remains in the green for low community spread. It is an indication of how the viral landscape has changed after the availability of vaccines.

”You know it’s hard to believe that this is all we’re seeing,” Smith said. “And particularly every year prior to this, after Thanksgiving in particular, you would see hundreds of people in the hospitals. And we’re not seeing that now.”

Smith came down with COVID several months after his was vaccinated. But that vaccine apparently still did its job. He said he had a mild case, worked from home for five days and then went back to his duties at hospital.