Salina Regional Health Center received its first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Thursday morning and administered its first doses to frontline workers Thursday afternoon.
According to the hospital, Kelly Winslow, a hospital ICU nurse, was the first to receive the vaccine at 2:04 p.m.
The shipment included 160 vials of the vaccine, which equals enough doses to treat 800 workers. Staff members will receive a second dose of the vaccine – as required by the manufacturer – 21 days following the first dose.
Salina Regional began making preparations to receive the vaccine last week by training staff members on the protocols necessary to administer the vaccine and identifying employees who would be the first recipients. Priority is given to staff members who frequently interact with COVID-19 patients and those who provide direct patient care.
“I’m excited,” Winslow said of being the first to get the vaccine at Salina Regional. “All of us in healthcare are excited to get past this current chapter of the pandemic and back to what we normally do. It’s been a rough six months. I’m getting this vaccine for our patients, and I’m getting this vaccine for my family to try to help prevent them from getting COVID.”
Both the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine, which is awaiting approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, require two doses to be given three weeks apart to gain maximum effectiveness. Information from Pfizer says its vaccine begins to provide up to 52 percent efficacy after one dose and 95 percent efficacy after two doses.
All COVID-19 precautions at Salina Regional will continue to remain in place including requirements for masking, screening all who enter hospital facilities for COVID-19 risk, limited visitation for patients, handwashing and social distancing. The numbers of hospitalizations from COVID-19 are expected to remain high through the winter months.
“Receiving the vaccine is an important step in the battle against the pandemic and I’m pleased that we got as many doses as we did,” said Robert Freelove, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Salina Regional. “One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced has been staff shortages and staff members getting sick because of COVID. If this can prevent our staff from getting sick, so that we are well-staffed and can take care of more patients, it’s going to be really helpful for us.”
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PHOTO: Bethanie McDowell, Infection Prevention Director at Salina Regional Health Center, administered the first COVID-19 vaccine to ICU nurse Kelly Winslow.