Thomas, WV – West Virginia was one of only four states to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this past week. According to the BBC, nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been distributed to multiple locations around the country. Cortland Acres is one of the first nursing homes in the State to receive the vaccine and inoculate their front-line health-care workers and vulnerable residents.
“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you by creating an antibody response in your body without having to become sick with COVID-19,” explains Cortland’s Director of Nursing Robin Eye, RN. “The vaccine may prevent you from getting COVID or, if you get it, the vaccine might keep you from becoming seriously ill or from developing serious complications.”
Federal officials expect 20 million people will get the first of two required doses by the end of the year. According to the Mayo Clinic, “vaccines to prevent the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic.
Cortland partnered with Preston-Taylor Community Health Centers to vaccinate staff members that opted to receive the vaccine. Using the 5,100 sq foot therapy gym to allow for social distancing, staff members received the vaccine on the morning of Wednesday, December 16th, and residents who consented received the vaccine that afternoon.
“It’s a privilege to serve the community and to help in any way I can,” exclaims Mike Dickey, a pharmacist at Preston Taylor. “This is an exciting and historic time.”
According to the Washington Post, “West Virginia is expected to get about 17,000 doses in the first set of Pfizer vaccines. If the Moderna vaccine is approved, the State could get a total of 110,000 doses before the end of the year. That is enough to vaccinate 6.1 percent of the state population.”
The Post goes on to explain that the first group “in line to receive a vaccine are100,000 health-care workers and 21,000 nursing home residents. Second in line include 56,000 essential workers, 48,000 teachers, and 15kFirst responders. The third and final line is 710k with preexisting conditions and 33,000 age 65+.” Prioritization is based on the CDC advisory committee’s guidance.
“I think there was a huge sigh of relief by those getting the vaccine,” comments Cortland Administrator Beth Clevenger. “We work closely with our resident’s day-in and day-out. You develop a bond with them. They become part of your family, and no one wants to expose any member of their family to such a disease. Even with the vaccine, there will continue to be lots of hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces, and continued mask-wearing. We like to err on the side of extreme caution when it comes to our Cortland family.”
Data has shown that the vaccine starts working soon after the first dose and has an efficacy rate of 95% seven days after the second dose. This means that about 95% of people who get the vaccine are protected from becoming seriously ill with the virus.
Made up of medical and public health experts, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that health care personnel and adult residents of long-term care facilities be among the first phase of the vaccine. Other groups under consideration for early COVID-19 vaccination include workers in essential and critical industries, adults at high risk of severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions, and adults age 65 and older.