The first round of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was shipped out to hospitals across Virginia this week, and frontline healthcare workers at Sentara RMH got their doses on Thursday. WMRA’s Calvin Pynn spoke with the first person there to receive the vaccine.
Dr. Mark Nesbit signed up to get the COVID vaccine early Thursday morning before his shift in the emergency department, knowing the usual drill.
DR. MARK NESBIT: They want to watch you for 15 minutes after the vaccination to make sure you don’t develop a reaction, so I got there as early as I could before my shift. I didn’t know at the time, but it turned out I was the first one to get a vaccine.
RMH received its first batch of the vaccine Monday night, and had needles in arms Thursday, starting with Nesbit. As an ER doctor, Nesbit is among the hospital’s high-risk providers invited to get it first.
NESBIT: People who work in the emergency departments, the intensive care units - we’re all taking care of COVID patients. And then there are the OB-GYNs doing deliveries, ENT’s who are near the airway, anesthesiologists who are working with the airway. Those are just the ones I can come up with off the top of my head.
Nurses and others close to COVID patients also have been included in Phase One of the Center for Disease Control’s vaccine distribution. This is the first of two doses required for Pfizer’s vaccine.
NESBIT: You’re seeing about 95 percent efficacy after the second, and a little over 50 percent after the first. Even with that, you won’t be able to see a benefit until it’s had some time to work.
And with a three-week waiting period between doses, that means the precautions to keep the virus under control are still paramount – especially while cases are spiking.
NESBIT: The shift I did today was in an area where we tend to take care of sicker people, and I probably saw five today that had to be hospitalized, so we’re definitely having a surge now.
Another reason he's glad to be among the first to begin getting the vaccines.
NESBIT: I feel good, you know I feel like this is the start of a next phase of management of this disease, and hopefully as more high risk people get it, we can hopefully see things start to drop off and people can start to have some normalcy in their lives.
Staff and residents in long term care facilities will be next in line to receive the vaccine, followed by essential workers and those with high risk health conditions. Those are Phases Two and Three. The general public will be able to get the vaccine in Phase Four.