Tanner Receives First Round of COVID-19 Vaccine
On the morning of Dec. 22, the two nondescript delivery trucks backed up to the docks of Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton and Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica, offloading the first doses of the vaccine that — along with continued public health measures — will give the region a chance to turn around the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hospitals received almost 2,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — enough to inoculate the frontline healthcare workers and medical staff who have battled the pandemic since the first cases appeared in March.
The health system began to administer the vaccines Tuesday afternoon.
“I think it’s important for people to remember — even if they’re low-risk — that we’re doing this for the at-risk people,” said Richard Warren, MD, a board-certified emergency medicine physician who was among the first to receive the vaccine. “The truth is, in the job we do and the place where we work, we’re natural spreaders. For us to protect our community, we have to be leaders.”
Dr. Warren said the shot didn’t hurt and had no concern about the safety of the vaccine.
“I had no concern about getting the shot,” he said. “I felt very comfortable.”
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call for administering the vaccine first to frontline healthcare workers — those at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 — and residents of long-term care facilities who are at the greatest risk of severe illness from the virus.
Doses of the vaccine are allocated by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DPH), which decides when — and how much — of the vaccine will be distributed.
The vaccine is manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and has strict cold-storage requirements. The health system has ordered additional freezers to safely keep the vaccine. To achieve better than 90% efficacy, the vaccine must be administered in two doses, 21 days apart.
The health system is strongly encouraging staff to take advantage of the vaccine for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.
Ultimately, Tanner hopes to roll out vaccination region-wide.
“I feel so strongly about getting protected and getting back to some sense of normalcy for us,” said Laura Larson, MD, a board-certified infectious disease specialist, medical director of infection prevention and chair of the Carroll County Board of Health. “This has been a hard, hard year, and I never want to go through anything like this again. I want everyone to know that I felt safe about getting it, and the safety data is unreal. We haven’t had a vaccine that had 95% efficacy in a long time. We’re fortunate that we have this in our lifetime.”
While mild side effects have been reported with the vaccine — typically as a result of the body’s immune response, indicating the vaccine is working — severe side effects from the vaccine have been very rare.
As the vaccine became available, frontline healthcare workers lined the halls at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton to get the first dose.
“We’re grateful that we can offer this as a means to keep our frontline staff safe,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner. “I’m looking forward to being able to offer this across our region, so everyone has the opportunity to be protected from this world-changing virus.”
More information on Tanner’s vaccine plan can be found at tanner.org/vaccine.