First doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine have arrived at Community Hospital in Munster. Some 975 vials of the initial allocation are ready for inoculation. An additional 975 doses are expected to be delivered on Thursday. Distribution of the vaccine is planned for in phases in accordance with CDC and Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) guidelines.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, our healthcare workers have given their all to make a difference,” said Alan Kumar, MD, chief medical officer, Community Healthcare System. “The vaccine represents another tool at our disposal to start to turn the COVID wave around. It is an honor and a privilege to stand with these heroes as they roll up their sleeves and lead us to a healthier tomorrow.”
A vaccine clinic, established at the Munster hospital campus is open by appointment to healthcare workers; both Community Healthcare System’s and also healthcare workers residing in Lake, Porter, Jasper and/or Newton counties. Registration for the vaccine clinic is being coordinated through the ISDH portal. First responders and high risk populations including the elderly and those with chronic health conditions also are designated to receive some of the vaccine doses provided in the early shipments.
First healthcare worker to receive the vaccine is a nurse, Glenna Crouch. Crouch is a critical care nurse on the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit where she cares for those most severely affected by COVID. Crouch also cared for the hospital’s first coronavirus patient nine months ago in March, making her one of the hospital’s most experienced caregivers with the disease. Crouch began her career on Community’s ICU nearly 30 years ago.
“The word that comes to mind with the vaccine is hope,” Crouch said. “It gives us hope for the future and that we can get back to where we were before the pandemic. As the months have gone on and the more (we) the nurses on the ICU have had to endure day in and day out, I told myself that I would be the first in line to get the vaccine. I had a chance to give back even more of myself to the community and to my family to protect them so I didn’t hesitate when I got the call that we were ready. COVID will never go away…but it’s good to know I am on the road to slowing, hopefully stopping, COVID.”
Pfizer’s two shot vaccine is considered highly effective and safe based on a clinical trial of thousands of participants. Those receiving the vaccine sign up for their second dose immediately following their initial vaccination. The second dose is imperative for the appropriate immune response with expected immunity within seven (7) days of the second dose. Noted side effects, as common with needle administered vaccines, include pain and/or swelling at the injection site, and fatigue or headache.
Vaccinations, which are given in two doses, are being distributed in phases with priority to healthcare workers, first responder and high risk populations:
· Phase 1-A: All those who work in a healthcare setting (hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient facilities, home healthcare settings, pharmacies, dialysis centers and emergency medical services) and have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to COVID-19.
· Phase 1-B: Protecting our high risk populations including those 65 years of age and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying conditions i.e. cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity or type 2 diabetes.
· Phase 2: Individuals who are at elevated risk of transmission because of work or living conditions-those living in correctional facilities, group homes or shelters and people whose in-person work is essential or required.
Vaccinations for the general public will be determined at a future date and the hospitals of Community Healthcare System are looking forward to assisting the state of Indiana with the distribution plan.
For more information about the hospitals of Community Healthcare System and COVID-19, click on COMHS.org/coronavirus.