Special to the News-Ledger
Contributions by Jessie Wagoner
The much-anticipated arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in McPherson has come. McPherson Center for Health announced it received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday and has begun administering the vaccine.
While the vaccine has arrived, it is in limited amounts. The hospital received 135 doses of the vaccine as part of the statewide distribution. The national guidelines are for front-line health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities to receive the first doses of the vaccine. With over 300 total employees, the first batch of vaccines is not enough to vaccinate all staff, but hospital officials say it is a good start.
Erica Selzer, physician assistant at McPherson Urgent Care was one of the first to receive the vaccine on Thursday. Selzer has been on the frontlines, testing and treating patients with COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Like Selzer, the first doses of vaccine will be given to those workers who have the most COVID-19 exposure. This will include nurses, physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, ancillary services staff and others.
The hospital and clinic staff who have received the first round of the vaccine are scheduled to receive the required second dose in 21 days. The hospital is holding the vaccination clinic for staff members through Monday, or as long as the current doses last.
“Our staff is staggering administration times, so that no department has all of its members vaccinated on the same day”, said Dr. Sheila Gorman, chief of staff. “We’re doing that because the vaccine can cause mild symptoms such as fever, muscle aches or joint aches as the body increases its immune response and we don’t want to have a whole department out with fever at one time.”
Hospital officials say that staff members are not required to receive the vaccine at this time, but it is being strongly encouraged and large numbers were turning out the first day of availability.
“We’re so happy to finally have the vaccine”, Gorman said. “It’s a powerful tool to further decrease the impact of Coronavirus on our community. I’m so glad to be able to offer our staff additional protection for them and for their families and community.”
Though the vaccine arrival is a relief to many, experts urge people to remain vigilant in their efforts to combat COVID-19. The vaccine requires two doses, which means it will take time to be effective. Additionally, with limited supplies available, it will be some time before the vaccine is available for the general public.
“While we are excited to see the first doses of the vaccine for COVID-19, we must remember that it is part of a two-dose series,” Kelly Sommers, BSN, RN, Director Kansas State Nurses Association said. “Nurses and health care employees are not at the 94-95 percent protection until a certain period of time after they receive the second vaccination.”
Nearly 400 nurses nationwide have died as a result of COVID-19 and many more have been infected and hospitalized.
Governor Laura Kelly has released an outline of the expected availability as follows:
- The COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the winter on a very limited basis for health care personnel, long-term care facility staff, long-term care residents, and EMS/frontline public health workers;
- The vaccine will become available in late winter on a limited basis for first responders, some public facing workers in essential and critical infrastructure, teachers, school staff, child care workers and individuals at high risk for adverse health consequences;
- The vaccine will become available in the spring at an increased availability for all other adults;
- And finally, the vaccine will become generally available in the summer for all Kansans, including children.