By Chad Koenen
Perham Health and Tri-County Healthcare began vaccinating front line staff members and first responders last Monday. The facilities received their first shipment of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine and over the course of the next several weeks will continue to vaccinate its employees.
“While this process is just starting, a safe and effective vaccine will have a game-changing impact on the course of the pandemic,” said Mark Paulson, MD, Perham Health. “I’m here getting the vaccine because I know it’s the best way to protect my patients, my family, and my community.”
At TCHC, Rachel Redig, M.D., was the first person to receive the vaccine.
“I chose to get the vaccine mostly for my family and the people I’m around, including my patients,” said Dr. Redig after getting the shot.
Dr. Redig is the Emergency Director at TCHC and has personally seen the impact of the pandemic on the healthcare industry. She explained how difficult it has been to send patients to higher levels of care.
“It’s scary knowing you can’t get your patients what they need in this day and age,” said Dr. Redig.
Developed at near record speed the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine were administered throughout the country last week. Despite the speed in which the vaccine was developed, Cheryl Houselog of TCHC said the COVID-19 vaccine uses technology that has been in place for years and has been determined safe to administer. She also encourages people to use reputidble sources like the Center for Diseases Controls or the Minnesota Department of Health and not social media or other fringe sources for accurate information about the vaccine.
“This vaccine, though developed quickly, uses technology that has been in place for decades,” said Houselog. “Tens of thousands of people participated in trials and through rigorous testing the vaccine has been found to be very safe and effective. The vaccine was not rushed. Instead, administrative red tape was removed to expedite the process. We advise using a reputable source, such as the CDC or MDH, to do your research so that you can make an informed decision about your vaccination choice.”
As people begin to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the area, Houselog suggested that individuals continue to practice caution, use social distancing and wash their hands in order to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
“The same things that have been recommended in the past are still recommended today: wear your mask, wash your hands, physically distance and limit social interactions,” she said.
Front line healthcare workers will be the first people to receive the vaccination, as well as people who live in long-term care facilities. Some other groups of people who may get early doses of the vaccine includes first responders, essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions and older adults.
It is anticipated that the general public will have access to the vaccine sometime in early 2021. The hope is enough people will get vaccinated to reach a herd immunity state to help get the COVID-19 virus under control. In order to reach that mark Houselog said approximately 70 percent of the population will need to get the coronavirus vaccination.
“Vaccinating will help us to prevent the spread of COVID 19, preserving health care services for all and reducing illness and mortality from this disease,” she said.