(Waupun) The medical director of Waupun Memorial Hospital emergency departments and Ripon Medical Center is the first frontline caregiver from both facilities to receive the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Read the full press release:
Syed Mohiuddin, MD, medical director of Ripon Medical Center and Waupun Memorial Hospital emergency departments, is the first frontline caregiver from both critical care hospitals to receive the first dose of the new Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
“If we are to end the COVID-19 pandemic, there is only one way: herd immunity,” according to Dr. Mohiuddin. “This can be obtained by letting the virus infect 70 percent of the people which will be devastating as we will lose millions of lives and the misery will be unbearable to any society or by vaccinating 70 percent of the people with a vaccine that is very effective. Face masks and social distancing are very important but temporary measures. So vaccination is the only way out of this pandemic.”
The ongoing trials of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine show a 95 percent efficacy rate in preventing confirmed COVID-19 after a person receives both doses within 21 days, according to information supplied by the Food & Drug Administration, which gave the vaccine emergency approval last week.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine was an easy decision for Dr. Mohiuddin.
“Personally, I don’t hesitate to be in the frontline for anything new or challenging and to get the vaccine when there is so much misinformation and distrust, I want to show our community that I support the vaccination by practicing what I preach.”
Waupun Memorial Hospital, as a member of Agnesian HealthCare, was able to give the vaccine after taking delivery of its first shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine following emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration late Wednesday afternoon. The hospital received about 200 doses for both Ripon and Waupun caregivers.
Because the COVID-19 vaccines are new and manufacturers cannot immediately produce enough supplies to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health departments have recommended a phased approach to vaccinations with health care workers first to receive them.
“Agnesian HealthCare and SSM Health are prepared to vaccinate as many of our health care team members as soon as possible to protect them from this deadly disease so they can continue to be able to care for our patients,” says Mohammad (Mo) Kharbat, SSM Health Wisconsin Vice President of Pharmacy Services and Health Research.
It is difficult to estimate how long this initial phase of vaccine distribution to frontline health care workers will take as it is dependent on the manufacturers’ ability to release vaccine supplies. Once health care workers have been vaccinated, the next phase of distribution will expand to include other essential workers and high-risk patients. In a later phase, the vaccine will be available to all members of the general public.
“We do not anticipate any of the COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available to our patients and the general public until Spring 2021 or later,” Kharbat explains. “As production of the vaccines increases to the point of being widely available to the public, we will be sure to communicate that information to our patients and the communities we serve.”
Agnesian HealthCare appreciates that people are eager to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, but requests people refrain from calling their health care provider or clinic for information to keep phone lines open for patients who are experiencing active symptoms or have acute care needs.
Agnesian HealthCare patients interested in receiving notification of COVID-19 vaccine availability are encouraged to sign up for an online MyChart account at MyChart.ssmhc.com.
Until and after COVID-19 vaccines are broadly available, the CDC continues to recommend that people take all the necessary precautions to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19:
- Stay home when you have symptoms.
- Do not gather with others outside your immediate household. If you must, wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart.
- Practice good hand hygiene, washing for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing thoroughly and rinsing completely.
The combination of a vaccine and these prevention measures will help us in our eventual return to normal.
When asked about those not certain if they wish to get the vaccine, Dr. Mohiuddin shares, “Wait and see how others do is a good strategy. However, the benefits outweigh the risks as this is a very serious disease. Nonmedical personnel do not know the severity of this disease as much as we see. So, I advise people to trust the professionals that are there to serve them form their own communities.”
To learn more about the vaccine visit agnesian.com/covid19, or the CDC (cdc.org) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (hhs.gov) web sites.