Healthcare facilities around the Panhandle started vaccinations for COVID-19 among medical professionals Tuesday afternoon, the first of three levels of Phase 1 vaccinations taking place across Nebraska.
Dr. Jeffrey Holloway, Regional West Physicians Clinic Acting President, and Regional West Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matthew Bruner were the first two staff members of the Scottsbluff facility to get a first dose of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19.
“Regional West is following the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services definition of direct patient care and exposure to infectious material to build our tiered roll-out of the vaccine to physicians and staff,” said Regional West Chief Quality Officer Margo Ferguson.
Before the shots were administered, Regional West President and CEO John Mentgen called it a momentous day, sentiments that were echoed by Dr. Holloway. “It’s a very exciting day, and it’s been a very long nine months… (but) I would want to point out because we have a vaccine and this is an exciting day, it doesn’t mean this is the end of the COVID epidemic,” said Holloway. “We still have a lot of work to do, we still need to take the appropriate precautions, but I think with today, I think we can start to say this will be the beginning of the end of the COVID epidemic in the western Panhandle.”
Morrill County Community Hospital staff celebrated with a Facebook montage of the first 27 staff, including several first responders, to get the Moderna vaccine.
At Sidney Regional Medical Center, CEO Jason Petik, Quality Manager Bob Kentner, CFO Kelly Utley led the way getting vaccinated, with a video of the administered shots posted to social media.
In Chadron, officials at Chadron Community Hospital posted to their social media accounts that they received their first 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and ten professionals led by Dr. Megan Schuckman volunteered for their first doses.
Future waves of distribution have not been announced; however, vaccine distribution for the general public is anticipated in early spring 2021.
The Moderna vaccine will be given in two shots, spaced 28 days apart. Through trials, the vaccines has proven to be 94% effective. That means of those vaccinated for the trials, only 6% developed COVID-19 when exposed to the virus and their symptoms were mild. Patients will see the highest efficacy seven days after the second shot.
“The vaccine is the first key step in slowing the spread, but we are still encouraging everyone to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by social distancing, regular hand washing, wearing a mask in public, and self-monitoring for symptoms,” said Paulette Schnell, Regional West Community Health director and Scotts Bluff County Health director.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In an earlier version of this story, the names of the RNs in the picture cutline were inadvertently reversed. We regret the error.