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Systems behind Port Arthur hospitals share COVID-19 vaccination updates

Steward Health Care and CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System announced Wednesday they are prepared to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to their healthcare workers.

In a news release, Steward said it began preparations “to safely and efficiently receive, store, distribute and administer the COVID-19 vaccine months ago.”

The measures included procuring deep freezers and developing proprietary IT software designed to schedule healthcare personnel to receive vaccines “in a physically distanced manner.”

“The use of vaccines has been a key part of combatting and eradicating certain diseases for generations, and we are confident the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective,” said Paul Trevino, CHRISTUS Southeast Texas President and CEO. “We believe this vaccine is key to dramatically reducing the curve and ending this pandemic.”

Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 2 announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allotted more than 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the state for this month.

The vaccines are to arrive in the state the week of Dec. 14, and according to the initial statewide distribution plan, healthcare providers for COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable residents will be among the first group to receive the vaccine.

“We are awaiting Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA and are prepared to offer and administer the vaccine to our healthcare personnel, inclusive of all Steward healthcare personnel, front line health care workers and affiliated community medical staff members, as soon as the vaccine becomes available at our facilities,” Steward wrote, adding it has a team of clinicians and subject matter experts ensuring the parent network of Port Arthur’s The Medical Center of Southeast Texas follows all CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

“Our COVID-19 Taskforce is evaluating and planning for the storage and distribution of a vaccine across our ministries, including at CHRISTUS ministries across Southeast Texas, while following the guidance of clinical experts and the frameworks distributed by the Catholic Health Association, Centers for Disease Control, and State Health agencies,” said David Benner, vice president of clinical ancillary services for the division of clinical excellence at CHRISTUS Health.

While the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all healthcare workers at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas facilities, it is not mandatory, the system wrote.

CHRISTUS Southeast Texas also detailed the vaccine would be given in two doses: an initial injection and a booster shot normally 21 to 28 days later (depending on the vaccine administered). Citing an unnamed pharmaceutical and CHRISTUS Health’s COVID-19 Task Force, the system indicated minor side effects similar to the flu shot, such as low-grade fever and redness or slight pain at the injection site, are possible.

Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as Moderna, petitioned the FDA in late November for emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccines.

“The Medical Center of Southeast Texas is grateful to our state and federal government for having the foresight to offer protection to those on the front lines of this pandemic,” Steward wrote. “For months we have trained and diligently planned for this moment. We are prepared and ready for this first step toward protecting our community against COVID-19.”