Healthcare workers in Grady County started getting the COVID-19 vaccine this week at both Grady General Hospital and the Grady County Health Department. Hospital workers, nurses and doctors got the shots Tuesday during the first round of administrations.
“I believe this vaccine is a glimmer of hope a lot of healthcare staff needed after the difficult year we have all experienced,” said Crystal Wells, administrator of Grady General Hospital. “Our healthcare workers have been working tirelessly the past 10 months to keep our communities safe. I feel this is the first step in allowing us to start to figure out what our new normal is as we move forward.”
There were 24 people vaccinated at Grady General Tuesday with registered nurse Mary Chason being the first to receive a shot, which was given by Bridgett Miller, R.N. Also administering shots Tuesday was Kaysee Maxam, R.N.
The hospital’s nursing leadership team will administer the vaccines as they become available. Wells says she believes all hospital employees will be vaccinated in a matter of weeks. To make sure there is no interruption in the care of patients, she says they are strategically scheduling the vaccinations hospital-wide in case someone experiences side effects.
Wells says she has complete confidence in the vaccine. She says, “The vaccines have been through the appropriate approval process to ensure it is safe and effective for use which gives us the confidence to move forward and begin administering vaccinations.”
The Archbold hospital system received a total of 1,170 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in this first allotment, which were divided amongst its four hospitals, including Grady General, Mitchell County Hospital, Brooks County Hospital, and Archbold Memorial Hospital, according to Archbold spokeswoman Priscilla Estrada.
President and C.E.O. of Archbold Medical Center, Darcy Craven, says the hospital will continue to receive more shipments of the Pfizer vaccine and will soon get the Moderna brand vaccine, as well.
The Grady County Health Department received 200 doses of the Moderna brand vaccine this week and began administering shots to healthcare workers on Tuesday, according to Dr. Charles Ruis, District Health Director.
Dr. Ruis says in addition to doctors and nurses, emergency medical technicians, home health nurses, laboratory staff, nursing home staff and dental office workers are among those eligible to get the vaccine during the first wave.
He is expecting the public health district will continue to receive additional vaccines on a weekly basis.
“The quantities will likely be higher next week and we anticipate a larger shipment (after that) and what we will do from then on it match our requests for the demand in the community,” says Dr. Ruis.
Despite the arrival of the vaccine, it will be some time before the general public can get the shot so Craven encourages people to continue to be on guard.
He says, “Even though the vaccine is an encouraging milestone, COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an extraordinary rate across the nation and world which is why we ask that everyone continue to be diligent in their efforts to combat this virus by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and using hand hygiene. We must continue to take the precautionary measures to keep our communities safe from this deadly disease until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization declare the COVID-19 pandemic over.”
Meanwhile, the Southwest Public Health District encourages healthcare organizations and congregate living facilities to request the Covid vaccine for their employees through the district’s website, says Dr. Ruis.
Now that the vaccine is arriving in all Southwest Georgia health departments, healthcare workers and facilities are able to obtain it, says Ruis. Among the facilities qualified to register are hospitals, urgent care facilities, long-term care facilities, EMS, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, home healthcare agencies, hospice organizations, and certain specialty care facilities.
Healthcare organizations in the 14-county district can fill out the vaccine request form on the district’s website at www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org. A member of the public health staff will contact each facility as soon as they are able to schedule the vaccine service. Individuals who are self-employed as healthcare workers may call their local health department for information and scheduling.