On Friday, December 18, 2020, Kevin Hurley, a registered nurse who works in the emergency department at South County Hospital become the first healthcare worker at South County Health to receive the recently approved Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19.
Over the course of eight scheduled vaccine clinics, Hurley is to be followed by approximately 1,060 of her colleagues who signed up to receive the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
The vaccine was delivered to South County Hospital on Thursday, December 17, the vials packed in dry ice to keep the drug at the required -94 degrees F.
The shipment contained enough supply to inoculate every staff member with the first dose, said Drew Ross, PharmD, MBA, Pharmacy Manager at South County Health.
Shortly before the first staff members started to arrive for the 10 a.m. start of the clinic, pharmacists began mixing the vials with a saline diluent to ensure the proper dosage.
“Based on the information we received from the Centers for Disease Control and the RI Department of Health, we are confident that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be pivotal in controlling the COVID-19 virus,” said Aaron Hattaway, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer.
“We have been assured that no steps in the evaluation of safety or efficacy were skipped in the development of this vaccine. Due to the immense public need, significant financial and human resources were made available to conduct these trials as quickly as possible,” Hattaway said.
Usual procedural delays between steps were abbreviated by executive order resulting in less waiting between steps, but no steps skipped.
According to the research leading up to the distribution of the COVID vaccine, there is a chance that side effects such as fever, aches, sore arm, body malaise may be experienced, particularly after receiving the second of two doses.
With the eight vaccine clinics, staff in each department are scheduled on different days to ensure that no department is left understaffed should someone have an adverse reaction or side-effect to the vaccine. At the time staff receive the first dose of the vaccine, an appointment will be scheduled for them to receive the second dose 21 days later.
South County Health president/CEO Aaron Robinson reflected on the importance of this step in protecting healthcare workers and the general public.
“Our team is excited to embark on this momentous administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. This will be critical to protect our frontline staff who have worked tirelessly to serve our community. After review of the Pfizer vaccine, we believe the vaccine to be safe, highly effective, and a promising turning point in the battle against COVID-19,” Robinson said.
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