WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital team members Deena Lakota and David Weaver get COVID-19 vaccinations at the Apple Hill site in York County.
York Daily Record
It’s a big day for WellSpan Health as a number of their hospitals across central Pennsylvania began administering their first shipments of the coronavirus vaccine Friday — the beginning of a massive inoculation rollout expected to expand to other hospitals in the coming days.
“It’s definitely given me hope, and I’m very excited,” said Dr. Eugene Curley, a WellSpan medical director for infection control and prevention. “If you just look at the last nine months — lockdown in the spring, things got better when we opened back up. But then we saw these peaks and valleys. And in the last month or so, numbers are definitely going in the wrong direction. The cases are the worst they’ve ever been, so I think this is one of the steps we need to turn the corner.”
Surgical ICU Nurse Madison Myers receives the COVID-19 vaccine Friday morning at WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital in York. (Photo: Submitted)
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By Thursday afternoon — just days after the Food and Drug Administration awarded Pfizer emergency use authorization — WellSpan Health received 975 vaccinations for a total of 6,825 doses across their seven hospitals. Moderna is expected to follow closely on Pfizer’s heels with its own vaccine in the coming days or weeks.
“We have been doing preparations and planning for this day for months,” Curley said. “And I think it’s a testament to our preparedness that we’ve received all vaccine doses to our hospitals.”
The shipments were sent directly to hospitals with guidance from the state government and will be entirely used to give the first dose to front-line health care workers who are most exposed to the virus.
A WellSpan delivery driver is applauded as she wheels in 975 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, Dece. 15, 2020. (Photo: Cameron Clark, York Daily Record)
Which WellSpan front-line healthcare workers are first in line?
Curley said that this does not stop at nurses and doctors, but rather includes anybody who would potentially need to enter the COVID unit.
“That could be someone from dietary bringing a tray to a patient, a physical or occupational therapist,” he said. “It could be a variety of front-line caregivers, not just doctors and nurses.”
Vaccinations across WellSpan hospitals began at 6 a.m. Friday in the following locations:
- WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital
- WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital
- WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital
- WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital
On Saturday, the vaccinations will be administered in
- WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital
- WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital
- WellSpan York Hospital
Good Samaritan is one of the first hospitals in the state to get the new COVID-19 vaccine. Inoculations should start later in the week.
Lebanon Daily News
Will the vaccine be required for staff?
The vaccination process is similar to the flu vaccine, Curley said. Staff will get their injection and be monitored for about 15 minutes before being permitted to leave.
The difference, he said, is that WellSpan mandates that all workers receive the flu vaccine. And right now, the coronavirus vaccine is not being required.
“And if a staff member says they don’t want the vaccine now, but in a week or two changes their mind,” Curley said. “We are allowing them to schedule a vaccination.”
The COVID-19 vaccinations, a triumph of modern medical research, will bring a two-fold benefit to hospitals. Even the first dose of the two-dose vaccine will give front-line health care workers some defense against the virus, decreasing the odds they will fall ill while they await a second dose in about three weeks.
And fewer workers falling sick will also allow hospitals to increase their capacity for patients – of which there are plenty. As of Friday, 6,209 Pennsylvania patients are hospitalized and 1,246 in the Intensive Care Unit.
Pfizer’s vaccine is believed to be about 95% effective at preventing infection, but this immunity does not take effect overnight. Health care workers who get the vaccine this week will need a second dose in about 21 days, Curley said, and then it takes another week for the vaccine to provide its maximum effectiveness.
That means no Pennsylvanian will be fully vaccinated until January.
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