TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The North Mississippi Medical Center (NMMC) is administering its first round of COVID-19 vaccinations to frontline workers.
Thursday’s recipients work directly with coronavirus patients.
NMMC workers receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17, 2020.
Dr. Jeremy Blanchard said approximately 120 to 200 workers will be offered the vaccine.
NMMC received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday.
Infectious disease physician, Mindy Prewitt, was the first health professional in Lee County to get the vaccine. A nurse gave her the vaccine into her left arm. Afterwards, Prewitt got a sticker as thank you and a list of side effects she may experience.
Nurses split up into four rooms and gave the vaccine to employees one at a time. Blanchard said they will all have to get a second dose after 21 days.
According to the hospital, all employees will not be asked to take the vaccine until adequate supplies of the vaccine become available. Until then, employees will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine based on a prioritized risk-based system, with frontline COVID-19 caregivers being in the first tier to be offered the vaccine. If the evidence continues to demonstrate that it is safe and effective, the hospital will strongly encourage its staff to take the vaccine to help keep themselves and patients and families safe from the virus.
The hospital is following a risk-based hierarchy to implement vaccination to its employees.
- Tier 1: Those giving direct care to COVID+ patients (i.e. serve on the COVID unit)
- Tier 2: Those who do not provide direct care on a daily basis to COVID+ patients but still have a potential for exposure (i.e. staff with brief direct encounters with patients)
- Tier 3: Those who do not provide direct patient care but work in health care (i.e. staff in support roles serving in areas with no patient contact)
Moderna's vaccine still has to be authorized first. The FDA's advisory committee meets Thursday to discuss emergency use authorization for it.
If the Moderna vaccine is authorized, the hospital system plans to distribute the Moderna vaccine to its community hospitals because many smaller facilities do not have the ability to properly store the Pfizer vaccine, which requires extremely cold temperatures.
Reporter Alexis Jones spoke with those health workers Thursday about the vaccine. Watch her interviews in the video above.