Madison – Holly Teeter, an RN on SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Madison’s ICU floor was the first frontline caregiver at SSM Health to receive a dose of the new Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine today.
“I just think it is amazingly momentous," Teeter said in a release. "I am so thankful I was able to get the vaccine today.”
The ongoing trials of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine show a 95% 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.
Teeter is scheduled to receive her second dose in three weeks and says she will encourage everyone she knows to get the vaccine as soon as it is more widely available.
“I just feel like this is going to offer a little glimmer of hope that things will start to get back to normal,” she said. “I have every confidence in the science and safety behind these vaccines.”
SSM Health’s employee vaccination supplies are from an initial statewide allotment from the federal government. 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 recommended a phased approach to vaccinations with health care workers first to receive them, according to Mohammad (Mo) Kharbat, SSM Health Wisconsin vice president of pharmacy services and health research
“We are collaborating closely with our community partners and public health departments on plans to safely and effectively distribute the vaccine to additional priority groups and eventually the general public,” Kharbat said. “While we do not know how long this first phase will last, we know that the next phase may include other essential workers and patients who are at highest risk for hospitalization or death if they are infected with COVID-19. If vaccine shipments continue to arrive weekly, we anticipate vaccines will be more widely available for the general public sometime in the spring of 2021.”
As production of the vaccines increases to the point of being widely available to the public, SSM Health said it will communicate vaccination information to our patients and the communities we serve. SSM Health patients interested in receiving notification of COVID-19 vaccine availability are encouraged to sign up for an online MyChart account. Signup is available at ssmhealth.com/mychart.
“While we appreciate that people are eager to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, we encourage people with questions to please check the CDC’s website rather than calling your health care provider or clinic for information,” Kharbat continued. “Many people still need medical assistance and we need to keep our phone lines open for patients who are experiencing active symptoms or have acute care needs. Websites for the CDC and local public health departments will be your best sources of ongoing information about the various vaccines.”
To learn more about the vaccine, visit www.ssmhealth.com, or the CDC (cdc.org) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (hhs.gov) web sites.
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.