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Hospital Administers First Doses of Vaccine

Chief Medical Officer: Vaccine appears safe and effective

By Mary Beth TeSelle, Special to The Union
To date, more than 600 employees and physicians at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital plans to begin giving second doses this week. Pictured clockwise from upper left: Laura Seeman and MaryAnne Deme; Hospital President and CEO Dr. Brian Evans; Andrea Rosenthal – all receiving their first dose of vaccine; and, lower left, Laura Seeman and Kellie Bolle receiving their second vaccine dose on Monday, Jan. 11.

 




As COVID-19 cases continue to spike, there is hope that a solution may be on the horizon – thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently being distributed and administered around the country.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control say that more than 22 million doses of vaccine have been distributed and nearly seven million people have received their first dose (as of Friday, Jan. 8.) While the CDC says roughly 700,000 of those recipients were in long-term care facilities, the vast majority of these initial vaccinations have been given to frontline caregivers in hospitals.

At Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, the vaccine arrived three weeks ago.



“We held our first vaccine clinic for employees on Dec. 6,” says Jeffrey Rosenburg, MD, SNMH Chief Medical Officer. “At that clinic, six doses were given. Our first real clinic was held the next day on Dec. 23 where 197 doses were given.”

Since those initial clinics, 615 SNMH employees and physicians have received the vaccination. At SNMH, and throughout Dignity Health and CommonSpirit Health (SNMH’s parent organization), vaccination is encouraged but optional for employees.



Dr. Rosenburg says the vaccination has been received positively by those at SNMH.

“Our employees have generally responded favorable,” Dr. Rosenburg explains. “Some employees have had reservations, but the vast majority have been excited to receive the vaccine. Initially we did have some who declined to get the vaccine but now many of those have changed their mind and want to get it.”

Dr. Rosenburg says the hospital will begin administering second doses this week. Despite recent reports questioning whether second doses are available or necessary, the CDC says second doses are required for both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine in order to ensure adequate protection. The second dose for the Pfizer vaccine should be given 21 days after the first, while the Moderna second dose should be given 28 days after the first.

Nationwide, the CDC says the vaccine has produced mostly mild, if any, side effects. Dr. Rosenburg confirms that is the case at SNMH, as well.

“As far as side effects, it has been mostly just a sore arm, some fatigue, some muscle aches,” he says. “Those are generally very short lived and resolve within 24-48 hours. Generally, these vaccines are very well tolerated. We have had two people experience allergic reaction with urticaria [hives] or rash – no anaphylaxis [severe allergic reaction].”

Dr. Rosenburg credits the team at SNMH with making this initial phase of vaccine administration go so smoothly. “A lot of very dedicated people at SNMH and in the community are working very hard to administer vaccine and work out the logistics. They are doing the hands-on work of registering recipients, administering vaccine, scheduling clinics, and overseeing the process.”

Eventually this process will transition to the community, allowing older community members and essential workers to receive the vaccine, followed by people with underlying medical conditions.

“It is a collaborative effort amongst Nevada County officials and the health care community to ramp up vaccination efforts,” Dr. Rosenburg says.

The vaccine appears to be safe and effective, according to Dr. Rosenburg, and he encourages the community to receive it when it is offered more widely. He says helping to administer the vaccine has been gratifying for him both professionally and personally.

“I love being involved in the vaccination effort,” he says. “I feel vaccination is vital in ending the pandemic.”

Nevada County Vaccination Plan

Currently, Nevada County is in Phase 1A, Tier 1 and 2, of the vaccination schedule. This group is primarily frontline care providers, including those working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, primary care clinics, and paramedics and EMTs.

Next eligible groups (in order):

Phase 1A – Tier 3: Those working in specialty clinics, labs, dental offices and pharmacies.

Phase 1B – Tier 1: People aged 75 and older; education and childcare workers; emergency services workers; and agriculture workers.

Phase 1B – Tier 2: People aged 65 and older; workers in critical manufacturing, facilities and services, transportation and logistics.

Phase 1C: People aged 50 and older; people aged 16-49 with underlying medical conditions or disability; other critical infrastructure workers.

For more information, visit mynevadacounty.com/3148/get-vaccine-information.


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