’We’re standing in line ready:’ Nevada County hospitals receive first COVID-19 vaccine shipment | TheUnion.com

’We’re standing in line ready:’ Nevada County hospitals receive first COVID-19 vaccine shipment

Nevada County received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, containing 975 doses.
Submitted to The Union
The county's first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines will be administered to frontline healthcare workers at the county's two hospitals.
Submitted to The Union

Asked what the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine means to her, Dr. Dawn Harris, director of the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, said, in a word: “hope.”

“The hope that this vaccine brings to my life and the rest of our lives is a really exciting feeling,” said Harris. “Hope around this disease has not been forthcoming.”

In her personal life, said Harris, the risk accompanying her work during the pandemic has meant being “very sequestered” alongside her husband, refraining from seeing friends or other family members in order to prevent potentially exposing them to the virus.

“In the position that I’m in, of course we take every precaution that we can to protect ourselves,” she said. “While I’m comfortable with what I’m doing at work, I have to keep in mind the comfort level of my family.”

Next week, Harris will be among the first wave of Nevada County health care workers to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“While the hospital is providing this for us as frontline health care workers, they’re making it our choice,” said Harris. “And I will tell you that, from an emergency room doctor’s perspective and from the rest of my group, we are all very excited and we’re standing in line ready for this.”

The hospital, according to Harris, is “well-prepared to administer” the vaccine, and has the necessary storage and freezers in place, but continues to coordinate additional supplies needed for the distribution. She expects she will be vaccinated Tuesday.

Harris said that, of her 20 years as a doctor thus far, the pandemic this year attached an “unprecedented” amount of fear to her work, in particular during the earliest months of the pandemic while less was known about how the virus spread.

Thursday afternoon, a Nevada County press release announced the county had received 975 doses of the vaccine that morning, and that they were being distributed to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Tahoe Forest Hospital.

“While this is a tremendous milestone in the fight against this pandemic, it will be some time until the vaccine is widely available,” read the release. “Until our community is widely vaccinated, stay home as much as possible, wear a mask when out of the house, and maintain social distance from non-household members.”

Asked what makes her confident in the vaccine’s safety, Harris responded, “All of the data that has been given to me. They really did a great job in testing this, both the Pfizer and the Moderna (vaccines).”

“The clinical trials have been not just promising in how effective they are, but also in their safety,” she said.

“I am familiar with the science behind it, so therefore I have absolutely no qualms in getting the vaccine, and I have no qualms in my husband, 80-year-old parents, and children … and the people it’s been cleared for, to get the vaccine,” she added.

Harris said she hoped others in the community would see the health care workers who have concluded the vaccine is safe, and are receiving it first, as “an example for when it becomes their chance to get it.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.

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