Medical Center delivers first dose of COVID-19 vaccine; next steps detailed

Published 7:51 pm Friday, December 18, 2020

The Medical Center of Southeast Texas administered its first COVID-19 vaccine to a registered nurse Thursday.

Christy Wright was given the shot as the Port Arthur hospital received its first shipment of the Pfizer doses. Wright is a medical-surgical and COVID medical floor nurse whose parents contracted COVID-19 during the summer. Wright’s father died from COVID-19 on Aug. 1, The Medical Center wrote in a release.

“I want to do all I can to help not spread this deadly virus,” Wright said.

Chief Nursing Officer Dana Steffer administered the vaccination to Wright.

The first case arrived at The Medical Center the same day CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth and Baptist hospitals in Beaumont received doses. The Medical Center claims it was the first in Southeast Texas to deliver the vaccine.

In fact, 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were allotted to The Medical Center.

“We are following every measure outline by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), and we will continue to support all efforts that lead to the end of this pandemic, and maintain quality, compassionate care in all that we do,” The Medical Center CEO Dr. Gary Mennie said.

Steward Healthcare, the parent system of The Medical Center, developed an application to pre-screen and schedule employees for COVID vaccinations. It also sets reminders for a second dose, which the CDC recommends within three weeks of the first shot as “necessary for protection.” The CDC adds the efficacy of a single dose has not been systematically evaluated.

On Friday, the FDA authorized a second vaccine by Moderna for distribution in the U.S. to individuals 18 and older.

A few hours earlier, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced it instructed the CDC to ship 460,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 159,900 of the Pfizer product for vaccinating frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

“Adding the Moderna vaccine will dramatically increase the amount of vaccine that can go to rural areas and smaller providers because it ships in smaller quantities and can be stored longer at regular refrigerator temperatures,” DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said.

Other hospitals, freestanding emergency rooms, emergency medical service providers, pharmacies, local health departments, health centers and other clinics in Texas are expected to receive the doses starting Monday, DSHS said. The doses are not expected to be available to the public until the spring, however.

The CDC says the Pfizer vaccine is not interchangeable with other COVID-19 vaccine products, adding those who begin the series of doses with one product should use that same product on the second dose.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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