1st Kansas Citian to get Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine speaks about experience

Sarah Kiehl works at Truman as ICU nurse
Truman Medical Center
Posted at 5:30 AM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 08:32:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Intensive care unit nurse Sarah Kiehl shared her experience of being the first person in Kansas City to get Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine with 41 Action News.

On Dec. 14, Kiehl got a surprise at work.

"Our manager came and said, 'Hey, you guys are getting vaccinated today,' and little did we know that we were going to be the first," Kiehl said.

After she got the vaccine, she made her way to the front of the hospital to talk to news channels from all over the metro. But, her story was going to be shared all over the country because of one tweet.

She posted this photo of getting the vaccine on Twitter. It has more than 304,000 likes, but it also came with some hate.

"It was very disheartening. I didn't expect it to that degree, just because my hope was that people would understand that I was making a choice for myself," Kiehl said.

Even though she got cruel replies, Kiehl kept the tweet up. But she said posting about the vaccine taught her something.

"It was it was tough. It was tough to see a picture of me circulating so quickly and people having opinions, based on me when they don't know me. I think it taught me a good lesson about how much that really can hurt somebody," Kiehl said.

Some good did come out of it.

"I got a letter from Dr. Kendall McNabney, who started the emergency medicine program at Truman back when it was general hospital," Kiehl said. "So I got a note from him, that was incredibly kind letting me know that he understood what it meant to be a critical care nurse. That he had worked alongside them for many years and that he could see even behind my mask the joy."

This ICU nurse said this letter impacted her greatly.

"It truly blew my mind. I didn't know that we would ever get to interact or that he would ever know who I was, and I just thought what he did for emergency medicine was so revolutionary. I felt beyond honored," Kiehl said.

She is still taking care of COVID-19 patients to this day. Because she told the world that she got the vaccine first at her hospital, people come up to her and say her story encouraged them to get the vaccine, too.

It's these moments that make her glad she got the vaccine.

"It's the best. It's truly the best feeling that people feel like they want to share that you want to come find me in the hospital and share that... It's the best feeling," Kiehl said.