1st doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine administered at BRMC

Photo: Baxter Regional Medical Center employees await the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Baxter County on Thursday morning.

Six frontline healthcare workers at Baxter Regional Medical Center (BRMC) were the first in the county to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines Thursday morning on the hospital campus.

Jackie Spurling, Julie Driesbaugh, Kayla Killian, Ralph Van Dyke, Dr. Brian Malte and Dr. Raymond Bandy received the first round of vaccinations, as BRMC begins administering 975 doses to its staff members. Officials hope to be able to vaccinate all staff members with the first two shipments received.

Thursday began Phase 1 of vaccinations at BRMC, with providers, ICU, ER and COVID-19 personnel to receive their shots first. Beginning Friday, all other departments will begin to receive vaccines, with all 975 doses expected to be administered by Monday.

Infection Preventionist Stephanie Free explains the process on how employees were chosen.

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Vaccinations are optional for employees, but President and CEO Ron Peterson thinks demand will be high.

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COVID-19 Task Force member Jonny Harvey explains the follow-up process for those that receive the vaccine.

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Vaccinations for health care workers began across the nation this week, with few side effects reported. Dr. Raymond Bandy, an infectious disease specialist, says the benefits outweigh any risk involved. Clinical studies have shown the vaccine to have about a 94% efficacy rate.

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To complete the vaccination process, recipients will receive a second dose, three weeks after receiving their initial injection. An additional two weeks will be required for the body to fully process the vaccine and develop complete protection. Task force members say even after employees have completed the entire vaccination process, they will still need to wear a mask, wash their hands often and practice social distancing.

Once frontline healthcare workers are vaccinated, the next highest priority group are residents and employees of long-term care facilities. Those vaccinations will be directed by the state, according to Peterson.

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Baxter Regional is standing by ready to aid the process if needed, says task force member Shannon Nachtigal.

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Currently, Baxter Regional is treating 24 COVID-19 patients, including six in ICU and four on ventilators. The maximum number of patients at one time was 32, which happened the day before Thanksgiving.

BRMC also expects to receive the Moderna vaccine after it receives approval for emergency use by the Food & Drug Administration.

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