Approximately 40 frontline health care workers at Grays Harbor Community Hospital received the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations as the first phase of vaccinations began on Tuesday.
A steady stream of health workers entered into the facility’s two vaccination locations from 1-3 p.m. to receive one of 975 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses. As of 2:30 p.m., 35 workers had already received the vaccine with another seven left to go before the end of the day.
According to the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Melanie Erandt, the hospital plans to administer 60 vaccinations on average per day as Phase 1A of the Washington Department of Health’s vaccination program ramps up to full speed.
On Tuesday, the hospital focused on Community Hospital frontline staff. Staff members were provided a designated time and location — one of two conference rooms at the hospital — to be administered the vaccine. According to hospital staff, this was done to help keep from overcrowding the areas as COVID-19 safety measures, such as mask wearing and maintaining social distancing, were adhered to as much as possible.
After receiving a dose, staff members remained in the room for 15 minutes so they could be observed in case they experienced any adverse side effects while they read through a provided Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccination fact sheet.
As the hospital gets further along into the process, it will begin administering the vaccine to other frontline healthcare workers and first responders and may adjust the time and availability the vaccine will be administered.
“We’ll eventually be intermingling. I think these first two weeks, since today is actually our first day of officially starting, we’re going to focus on our employees,” Erandt said. “But I do have some things in the works for, maybe next week, to divide up the hours. We’re doing 1-3 p.m. right now. We may do a drive-thru at 2 o’clock and keep the employees that are in the building from 1-2, so we might be splitting that up.”
The hospital received 975 doses of the vaccination for Phase 1A, with one vile providing five doses. If the hospital plans on administering approximately 60 doses per day, that means it has just over a 16-day supply for the first round of the vaccination program. With the vaccination being a two-dose process spread two weeks apart, the amount of doses GHCH received can vaccinate approximately 487 individuals, which hospital staff stated was sufficient to vaccinate the frontline healthcare workers and first responders they expect to vaccinate during the first phase.
Erandt said that she believes the hospital will get an idea of if and when they are to receive additional doses, as well as further information on subsequent stages of the vaccine roll out, from the state Department of Health within the next week.
“(The state DOH) is looking at it based on the usage also, so we are not going to get allocations until we’ve probably started using (the existing doses). (GHCH) pharmacy is hoping they’ll hear (information regarding additional vaccine supplies) this week or next week,” she said. “We’re following the (state Department of Health) and the CDC guidelines. They are very specific on their phases, so we will stay in Phase 1A until they tell us we can move to the next one.”
While Erandt said she was “pleasantly surprised” that the staff seemed eager and willing to receive the vaccine, hospital staff stated there are some who should consult their health care provider before receiving the vaccine once it is administered to the public, which is estimated to begin sometime in March.
“The areas that were a hot topic were pregnant or breast-feeding women and children. There haven’t really been any trials on that so what is being instructed is for anybody who is in that category to talk to their healthcare provider and see if that is something they should do now or if they should wait,” said Infection control/Employee Health Nurse and Director of Surgical Services Rosemary Chapman, who is one of a few nurses administering the vaccine on Tuesday. “People that have already have COVID, there is a thought process of having them wait 90 days to get it. So we’re following that line of thought. If there is someone with really severe allergies that are known, we are having them get doctor’s notes, and we may have special considerations for them.”
For more information, visit the hospital’s COVID vaccination website at ghcares.org/covid19-vaccine-grays-harbor.