By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
With the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine just days away from a likely approval, Bassett Hospital is prepping to give the first vaccination to one of its healthcare workers as the New Year starts.
“It will be a celebration by our organization,” said Dr. Kelly Rudd, Clinical Pharmacy technician. “It’s a way to celebrate the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”
Though 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were shipped across New York State this week, Bassett has opted for the Moderna vaccine, which has similar efficiency against COVID-19, but requires less refrigeration.
“Because it doesn’t need the ultra-cold storage like the Pfizer vaccine, it’s easier to store and transport throughout our region so we can reach more patients in our service area,” said Rudd.
According to news reports, 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be distributed by the state Department of Health, the first going to “high risk” hospitals and nursing home patients.
“We submitted our total number of employees to the state,” Rudd said. “We’re not anticipating that the whole supply will come in one shipment, so we’re working on stratification, determining who is in the closest proximity to COVID patients, age, who is at the highest risk with underlying conditions, so we can vaccinate them first.”
The Moderna vaccine, like Pfizer’s, is given in two doses, 28 days apart. “One of the things we have to look at is how to structure those vaccinations,” said Rudd. “If one of our healthcare workers begins showing symptoms, we want to be able to monitor to see if it is because they are sick or if it’s side effects, so we don’t want to vaccinate everyone at once.”
Though not made up of the live COVID virus, the vaccine can cause similar side effects, including fevers, chills and joint pain for a few days after the shot is administered.
After all “high-risk” people are vaccinated, the second tier is “essential” workers, such as county Public Health Director Heidi Bond.
However, it could be several months before the vaccine is ready for the public, Rudd said.
“People need to know that they’re not going to get it for Christmas,” said Dr. Charles Hyman, attending physician, Infectious Diseases.
But when the vaccine is available to the public – Hyman suggests end of April – plans are beginning to form about how to get it out to the public.
“I think it will be a slow roll-out,” said Bond.