Union County Hospital and Southern Seven Health Department Receive First Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccine
Healthcare institutions in the region have begun receiving the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Southern Seven Health Department has received a shipment of 160 doses of the vaccine, which was transported to a local healthcare provider.
Frontline healthcare workers at that facility are expected to receive their first COVID-19 vaccinations beginning today. Frontline healthcare workers are considered to be paid or unpaid employees who serve in healthcare settings and have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.
“The arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is an important step in the fight against this pandemic in the Southern Seven region,” said Teresa Wilburn, Director of Nursing for Southern Seven Health Department. “I’m proud to have been a small part of the process in the delivery to one of our hardest hit counties. Frontline workers will be some of the first people to receive the vaccine and I’m looking forward to the months ahead when it could be available for everyone in our communities.”
Based on current guidance from Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Southern Seven expects to receive a weekly shipment of vaccine. These vaccines will be distributed throughout the seven counties based on guidance from IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Currently COVID-19 vaccinations are being provided to frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities under Phase 1A of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program. Phase 1 is characterized by having access to a limited amount of COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re beginning to get phone calls from people who are very interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine and they’re wondering when it will be their turn,” said Nathan Ryder, Outreach Coordinator for the Contact Tracing Team at Southern Seven Health Department. “We ask that people stay patient. Once COVID-19 vaccine supplies stabilize and become more readily available, we’ll have a better idea of when each group under the CDC’s Vaccination Program might be able to pull up their sleeves to get vaccinated.”
“Right now, it looks like the general public will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine in late spring or early summer,” Ryder said. Until there is a broader rollout of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the nation, it’s important for everyone to continue following those tried and true guidelines for slowing the spread of this disease: mask up, keep your social distance, and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
Officials from Union County Hospital in Anna have also announced the reception their first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, allowing staff to begin the two-dose vaccination process.
Consistent with CDC guidance, the vaccine will be provided on a staggered schedule to physicians and staff caring for COVID-19 patients first.
After the physicians and staff caring directly and indirectly for patients get vaccinated, Jim Farris, CEO of Union County Hospital will join with his team and do the same. “I am extremely excited to have the vaccine and that our staff and community can begin to turn the page on this pandemic. We have a highly dedicated group of professionals who have been on the frontlines for months now. I owe it to them to be a part of the team; to step up to the plate, set an example and take this vaccine,” he said.
Charles Sanders, Chief Nursing Officer for the facility, explained, “This vaccine may be new to this virus, but vaccine development is not a new process. This vaccine has been created using known medical research and technology. We have a long way to go, but this is a major step on the road to ending this pandemic, and one we are excited about.”
While the first doses of the vaccine in Illinois have been slated specifically for healthcare workers, Farris said, with continued production, he expects to see the vaccine will become more widely available in 2021. “With the approval of this vaccine and the pending approval of another, I hope we will start to see the vaccine become more common and, ultimately, see more people and communities protected from this virus and starting to heal from the far-reaching effects of a global pandemic. We are not out of the woods yet, not nearly. But I think we may have our guiding light.”