The many hours spent by Jefferson Healthcare staff preparing and strategizing prior to the hospital district receiving its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine appears to have paid off. …
The many hours spent by Jefferson Healthcare staff preparing and strategizing prior to the hospital district receiving its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine appears to have paid off.
Jefferson Healthcare spokesperson Amy Yaley said the hospital was approaching 900 first-dose vaccinations and hadn’t reported a single hitch in the rollout so far.
“That represents about 61 percent of our eligible 1a staff,” Yaley told The Leader last week.
Of the 1,400 people in the 1a group throughout Jefferson County that have been identified to receive the vaccine, about 59 percent have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That number passed 60 percent this week.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech must be administered in two separate doses at least 21 days apart.
The hospital district received a second shipment of the vaccine Dec. 22, Yaley added, but staff were unsure whether the shipment was to be used for the second dose for the first group of recipients, or to provide more initial doses for the 1a group.
“We were unsure at the time of receiving it if it was our second-dose allocation or if it was just a second allocation,” Yaley said. “We did confirm that it was just a second allocation and we will be receiving our second-dose allocation for Pfizer.”
Yaley added that recipients of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine could not get their second dose from the Moderna vaccine, which was given the green light for distribution by the FDA in December.
Staff at Jefferson Healthcare have been inundated in recent days by phone calls from people seeking to get a spot on the “waiting list” to receive their COVID shots, but Yaley said there is no such list and Jefferson Healthcare already has developed a roster of who will receive the vaccine.
“We’re strongly urging people not to call the clinics and not to call the hospitals; there’s not a waiting list. Our staff is getting inundated with their calls and they’re not able to do their regular duties,” she said.
Yaley added that the hospital will continue to inoculate members of the 1a group until it is given the go-ahead by the state health officials to broaden the criteria for recipients.
Certain healthcare workers, first responders, long-term care workers and residents fall within the category of 1a recipients, although Jefferson Healthcare will not be administering the vaccine to long-term care residents. Yaley said the staff at long-term care facilities would be administering the vaccines themselves.
For the time being, Yaley said Jefferson Healthcare would not be pushing to receive more of the vaccine until it is given the nod to broaden its recipient criteria, since it currently has ample vaccine to handle the number of people in Jefferson County’s 1a group.
“We have more than enough to do what we need at this moment, so it wouldn’t be fair for us to receive an additional shipment from Moderna,” she said. “Once that line opens up, we’ll get regular allocations moving forward. It was great for us to see that second shipment come because that showed that the supply chain was working and that everything is moving the way it should, so we anticipate there being regular shipments.”
As for any adverse reactions from those who have received their first doses, Yaley said only two allergic reactions have been reported so far and both of those instances were in patients who had a previous history of allergic reactions to vaccines.
The patients, she added, required no hospitalization and were released later the same day.
Yaley credited the hard work by hospital staff in preparation for the arrival of the vaccine as being critical in Jefferson Healthcare’s ability to efficiently begin distribution of the vaccine.
“We had a great team that started over a month before delivery, planning and forecasting and devising scenarios and how we would handle those situations when they arrive and we’ve been able to do that.”
Now, she added, Jefferson Healthcare is awaiting word for what the next step will be in providing the vaccine to everyone in Jefferson County who wishes to get a COVID vaccination.
“We’re eagerly awaiting direction from the Department of Health for the next population that we can vaccinate; we’re anticipating that being individuals over the age of 75 and essential workers,” Yaley said. “We’re prepared to vaccinate, we’ve got a great plan in place.”