Just days after the first doses arrived Dec. 14, nearly 1900 UR Medicine staff on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic have received Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to protect themselves from COVID-19.
As of 3 p.m. Dec. 18, 1114 staff at Strong Memorial and 755 at Highland Hospital had received the first of two doses of the vaccine. Those numbers will tick up rapidly as the nation and New York State ramp up vaccine deployment. Strong Memorial and Highland Hospital are scheduling clinics almost daily, and UR Medicine affiliate hospitals F.F. Thompson, Noyes Memorial, Jones Memorial, and St. James hospitals launch their employee vaccine programs in the coming days.
After months of anxious waiting for a vaccine that could slow the spread of infections in the U.S., the first shipment of Pfizer/BioNTech product arrived at Strong Memorial Dec. 14. The hospital’s Vaccine Distribution & Administration Workgroup, which is comprised of representatives from URMC leadership, pharmacy, infectious diseases, critical care, nursing, employee health, HR, and public health, quickly put plans into action. The team ran a small staff clinic to test-drive its vaccination processes.
That pilot ran smoothly; the following day the hospital ran another, larger clinic and refined its check-in and vaccination processes. The third clinic on Wednesday moved at twice the speed of the previous day’s run.
Based on federal and state guidelines, the initial vaccine supply is directed to two groups:
- Faculty and staff who are at high risk of exposure to coronavirus based on frequent contact with coronavirus patients in the hospital setting
- People working on units with large numbers of coronavirus patients, or other areas at high risk of exposure, such as labs that process COVID tests.
This week’s clinics delivered the first of two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with the vast number of staff members reporting no side effects, and some noting that the vaccine was less painful than standard flu vaccine. Staff will receive their second dose approximately three weeks after the first.
With more Pfizer vaccine shipments expected, and the Moderna vaccine expected to receive approval soon, vaccination will extend to thousands of UR Medicine employees in the months ahead.
And staff are ready. An internal survey of more than 10,000 employees showed that 60 percent of employees at Strong Memorial would get the vaccine as soon as it’s available, only 13 say they would decline at this time, and 27 percent are unsure.
Strong Memorial and UR Medicine affiliate hospitals will provide vaccine for all staff who want it, as supplies allow. Those who decline will have an opportunity to receive it at a future date if they choose.