Williamson Medical Center is preparing to receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines.
The hospital is slated to soon receive 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. WMC is expecting to receive the vaccines on Thursday or Friday.
That vaccine needs to be shipped at extremely cold temperatures and comes packed in dry ice. The manufacturer is shipping the vaccines in special containers with 975 doses each.
WMC emergency medical services personnel and inpatient hospital team members who have direct exposure to COVID-19 patients or associated infectious materials will be the first to receive the vaccine. That’s in line with the Tennessee Health Department’s vaccination plan.
The state of Tennessee received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday. The state expects to start giving the shot to health care workers starting Thursday.
The state is scheduled to receive 56,500 doses by the end of this week, which will be distributed among 71 hospitals, including Williamson Medical Center. An additional 56,500 doses will be delivered to Tennessee by the end of the month.
Tennessee is also expecting to receive 100,000 doses of a similar COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna. That vaccine is excepted to receive emergency approval from the FDA by the end of the week.
WMC is following protocols set in place by by Pfizer and the Tennessee Department of Health regarding the storage, prioritization and administration schedule of vaccine doses received.
The vaccine requires two doses, so employees receiving the first dose will then be scheduled to receive a second dose in three weeks. It may take up to 35 days to achieve immunity following receipt of the second vaccine dose.
Eligible staff members can sign up to receive the vaccine at no cost. While not mandatory, WMC is encouraging medical and support staff to be vaccinated for their own protection, as well as in support of the larger effort to manage the COVID-19 health crisis.
Last week, the hospital had 40 patients with COVID-19, the highest number ever. At the start of this week, the number of COVID-19 patients had dropped to 36. The hospital continues to follow enhanced safety protocols to protect patients and staff.
The delivery of vaccines to health care workers in Williamson County is a hopeful sign, but it will still take months to vaccinate most people in the county.
In a statement, WMC urged residents to mitigate the spread of the virus by social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands often.