6 PIONEERS GET SHOTS
By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Six Tier One Bassett employees elected to receive the Moderna vaccine in Bassett Hospital’s Clark Auditorium this morning.
Housekeeper Eddie Cook, among the six, was “excited and a little nervous” about receiving the vaccine. “If it helps stop the spread and will keep his wife safe,” he said, “I am happy to do it – I will be glad when the vaccine is widely available.”
The other five were: Dr. Lewis Brinton IV, Fly Creek, an emergency-room doctor at Little Falls Hospital; Keith Velasco, Milford, nursing associate; Suzanne Evans, Cooperstown, surgical resident; Liz Burns, Oneonta, R.N., and Dr. Travis Hodgdon, Cooperstown, critical-care physician at Bassett.
The vaccines were administered by Kelly Rudd, Bassett Health Network’s chief of pharmacy, as well as Michele Taurisano, Utica, and Allen Light, Westmoreland.
While today’s vaccinations were administered with some fanfare, Network spokesman Karen Huxtable-Hooker said some Moderna shots were also give yesterday to Fox Hospital staff.
The vaccine is not mandatory at this time, said Network President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim, who witnessed the first in-county vaccinations. However, he said, it is being “strongly encouraged,” adding, “We have plans to vaccinate all staff if they want it.”
Cook said he was asked by his supervisor if he would like to have the vaccine, and he said yet.
In an interview, Ibrahim said cases were declining when he arrived from Tulsa, Okla., in July to assume his leadership role at Bassett. “At that time cases were declining,” he said. “It was a stable time to come into the position.”
In opening remarks at 11:10 a.m., Ibrahim said the vaccines were indeed developed “at warp speed” in just 10 months, “quite the undertaking” and an “unprecedented” feat.
“When we come together (as human beings), with our efforts we get it done,” he said.
Some 350 of Bassett’s Tier One workers received the Pfizer vaccine at Utica and Elmira over the weekend, but Ibrahim said the Moderna vaccine can be transported and store more easily across the network’s eight-county region.
Also, Pfizer’s vaccine has to be stored in extreme cold; Moderna’s does not, he said.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require booster shots as it is after the second when the over 90 percent efficacy can be observed.
“Moderna vaccinations across the Bassett Network are expected to roll out full-scale tomorrow, targeting Tier One clinical and nonclinical high-exposure employees,” he continued. “We are going to vaccinate as many as we can until we run out.”
Those receiving the vaccine were advised to wait 15 minutes to ensure there were no adverse reactions. All six employees were able to leave after the allotted time with no complications.
It is unclear when the vaccine will be available to the public, but Ibrahim anticipates it will happen over the next several months.
“I have not been vaccinated yet,” he said, “but I will and I am excited to do so along with my entire family.”
“The responsibility is on us and the community,” Ibrahim stated. “We strongly advise against large gatherings this holiday season. Social distancing, continuing vigilant mask wearing and keeping up with hygienic practices are imperative.”
“As long as we continue to take precautionary measures,” Ibrahim stated. “This vaccine could mean the beginning of the end (of the COVID-19 pandemic).”