Less than a year after COVID-19 appeared in West Michigan, select Mercy Health colleagues have voluntarily received the first doses of federally approved COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, December 17, 2020. Over the next several weeks, all colleagues will have an opportunity to receive the vaccine, beginning with those involved in direct COVID-19 patient care.
The first to roll up their sleeves were Andrew Jameson, MD, regional director of Infectious Diseases, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and Justin Grill, DO, chief medical officer, Mercy Health Muskegon.
“I am excited to take this first step to keep our colleagues and myself safe,” said Jameson. “I’m happy to lead by example and feel very confident in the science and efficacy of the vaccine.”
Grill echoes confidence in the vaccine’s safety: “Today was a historic day and a major step forward in our battle against COVID-19. The provision of this safe and effective vaccine was the result of tremendous work across the globe and it is with great pride that we began to deliver this to our colleagues in order to protect them against the ravages of this disease.”
Also receiving the vaccine today were more than 100 nurses, respiratory therapists and hospitalists. All will receive a second dose in about 21 days for maximum effectiveness, which is reportedly around 95%.
Vaccine clinics began on Friday, December 18, 2020, to our frontline colleagues. It will be a phased rollout with the first vaccines going to health care workers in direct COVID-19 patient care. In the coming weeks, the vaccines will be offered to colleagues and medical staff in non-COVID patient care, followed by non-clinical services.
“Although we still have many challenges ahead, the beginning of COVID-19 vaccination represents hope to both our community and organization,” said Claudia Jarrin Tejada, MD, medical director, Infection Prevention and Control, Mercy Health Muskegon.
While Mercy Health Muskegon has initially received 1,950 doses, and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, weekly shipments are anticipated for both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine, once Moderna’s becomes available.
Reminder to our colleagues who are first-to-be vaccinated: You must stay committed to the recommended safety guidelines to model the behavior to our communities and colleagues who are not yet vaccinated:
• avoid crowds,
• continue social distancing,
• wear masks and
• continue excellent hand hygiene.
If you want to post your COVID-19 Vaccine selfie, please use the hashtag #StopCOVID.
“I am amazed and deeply grateful to the colleagues across our health system who have worked tirelessly to operationalize the vaccine distribution at our hospitals,” said Dr. Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, chief clinical officer, Trinity Health Michigan. “We will continue to vaccinate as many colleagues as possible each week. We are confident in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and strongly encourage everyone ages 16 and older to be vaccinated as the vaccine becomes more widely available.”
More information on vaccines at Mercy Health can be found at https://www.mercyhealth.com/vaccine.