Deborah Heart and Lung Center today vaccinated its first employees for COVID-19 under FDA vaccine Emergency Use Authorization. The dose was administered to five Deborah employees simultaneously after Deborah’s Director of Pharmacy Deb Sadowski, RPh thanked the vaccination team for their efforts, and expressed how humbled and honored she was to be part of the inaugural campaign against COVID 19.
The first five Deborah employees vaccinated in the hospital’s Benjamin Winderman Auditorium were: Jenni Blood, RRT; Sharon Corbett, Unit Coordinator; Carolyn German, RN; Michael Neary, MD; and Tina Welz, Environmental Services.
As part of New Jersey’s overall vaccine distribution rollout, Deborah was among the first in the state to receive the vaccine because of its ultra-cold freezer storage capability, a requirement for proper management of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. The hospital received 1 tray of the vaccine. A second shipment in 21 days will provide the second dose required for effective vaccination.
“Like everyone, we are hopeful to see the ‘beginning of the end’ to COVID-19,” said Deborah President and CEO, Joseph Chirichella. “This has been an arduous year to say the least, and taking the first steps to put COVID behind us offers hope for the future. We know we still have a tough start to 2021, and don’t expect to return to normal until mid-year, as the vaccine reaches more of the public.”
Chirichella explained that Deborah had established a tiered system for equitable distribution of the vaccine.
“First priority is being given to high-risk patient-facing providers, caregivers, and support staff; then those 65 and older; followed by all other patient-facing staff; the fourth tier is for all other high-risk staff; and then those over 65. Our sixth tier is for all other staff not vaccinated in the previous groups; and our final tier is for those employees who initially declined to be vaccinated, but changed their minds.”
Sadowski added that the hospital was planning on vaccinating 240-260 employees daily moving forward.
Chirichella asserted that convincing the public to take the vaccine was the first challenge. “We have to reassure the public that the vaccine is safe and effective,” he said. “Our teams have carefully reviewed the data, and we have no qualms on urging folks to get vaccinated. We also have to remind everyone, that for the next six months during the vaccine rollout, we have to continue to be vigilant with wearing our masks, social distancing, and washing our hands. We are all experiencing a bit of pandemic fatigue, but we need to keep moving toward that light at the end of tunnel.”
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