After receiving the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID vaccine on December 15, Augusta Health's Vaccine Clinic has continued throughout the week. As of Tuesday morning, December 22, more than 800 healthcare personnel had been vaccinated at the Clinic. In alignment with the Virginia Prioritization Schedule determined by the Virginia Department of Health, these healthcare workers are part of the highest priority group: those who 'directly engage in the care of or interact with patients known or suspected to be infected with COVID-19'.
Logistically, the Vaccine Clinic has implemented several safety factors—such as precise scheduling, separate and socially distanced areas for paperwork, maximum hygiene precautions and socially distanced administration stations—that were developed to address mass vaccination during a pandemic. "The clinic has been going very well," says John Mack, PA, Chief Operations Officer of Augusta Medical Group and a member of Augusta Health's Vaccine Task Force. "Our goal is to complete the allocation we received from Pfizer before a short break for the holiday."
The Vaccine Clinic, when possible, is using the sixth dose in each vial since the FDA and CDC guidance was issued late last Wednesday. The guidance deemed it acceptable to create a sixth dose if another full dose is available from a single vial.
After returning from the holiday, the Vaccine Clinic will begin administering vaccines from Moderna. Augusta Health's requested shipment from Moderna is 1000 doses. The Moderna vaccine does not require the ultra-low subzero storage.
In preparation for the Moderna vaccine, a second group of healthcare workers have been notified to schedule their appointments from the Moderna allocation. In accordance with the Virginia Prioritization Schedule, that second group is healthcare personnel who 'interact with patients not known or suspected to be infected with COVID-19 but who are at higher risk for infection due to the patients' individual risk factors, any employee that physically works in a long-term care or skilled nursing facility, and first responders'.
Because it is critical that the second dose of the vaccine be from the same manufacturer as the first dose, those vaccinated are scheduled for their second dose as they leave the Vaccine Clinic. A second shipment of Pfizer vaccine to be used to provide the second dose for those just vaccinated is expected late next week. It's expected that shipments will continue from both Pfizer and Moderna through the coming months.
"I have nothing but praise for our team administering the vaccinations," adds Mack. "From the scheduling through the administration, they keep everything running smoothly and on time. They've worked multiple shifts at various times of day and night. Their dedication to their colleagues and team members is incredibly admirable."