The same day the first truck with COVID-19 vaccine bumped against the docks at Tanner Health System, the hospitals began putting shots in arms to protect staff from the pandemic.
Since Dec. 22, when the first shipment of 2,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton and Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica, the health system has administered 1,000 doses to staff.
On Dec. 23, the health system opened vaccinations to any employees who want it.
“Widespread vaccination is how we get past this pandemic,” said Laura Larson, MD, a board-certified infectious disease specialist, chair of the Carroll County Board of Health and medical director of infection prevention at Tanner. “The more people who take this vaccine, the safer we’ll all be.”
The vaccine achieves about 70% effectiveness after the first dose and 95% effectiveness after the second dose, administered 21 days later.
This week, vaccinations will continue in Carrollton and Villa Rica, with Higgins General Hospital in Bremen and Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama in Wedowee also receiving the vaccine. The health system has also received 1,000 doses of vaccine from biotechnology firm Moderna.
The vaccines, which cannot be made mandatory for Tanner staff under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) emergency use authorization (EUA), have been taken by almost one third of Tanner’s staff, including frontline clinical staff, environmental services workers, security staff and others.
Tanner looks forward to opening vaccination to anyone in the region who wants it.
“Almost everyone should receive this vaccine,” said Dr. Larson. “Unless it’s contraindicated, get vaccinated. This is how we move forward.”
Vaccines are administered to the muscles of the upper arm. The mRNA vaccine tells the muscles to produce a spikey protein that makes the coronavirus so virulent, so when the body encounters the virus again, it’s prepared to take the virus apart and prevent it from reproducing. There is no virus in the vaccine.
More information on COVID-19 vaccination will be available at tanner.org/vaccine