BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The first vaccines were given to hospital medicine physician Ann Marie Swann, MD, and Patricia Johnson, RN, a nurse in the Emergency Department.
Both women volunteered to be the first to receive the vaccine and work directly with COVID-19 patients. An additional 43 healthcare workers, who also work directly with COVID-19 patients, followed. A third batch of 30 more were anticipated to also be vaccinated.
“We have been planning for many weeks and are eager to execute plans to distribute the vaccine to our staff and our communities,” said Trey Dobson, MD, SVMC’s chief medical officer and a board-certified emergency physician. “Although quantities are initially limited, we are working according to the state’s recommendations to get the vaccine to everyone as additional doses arrive.”
After receiving her vaccination, Johnson said, “I trust in science, and I want to lead by example to help strengthen the overall health of my community. Clear, transparent communication and collaborative engagement can help overcome vaccine hesitancy.”
“This is so exciting,” said Swann just after being vaccinated. “I hope many people get vaccinated, so we can have herd immunity, keep ourselves and our families safe, and eventually begin to socialize in groups and travel again.”
Vaccine information is available on the health system’s website. It includes the phased vaccination plan, which indicates that healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients and adults who live in long-term care settings will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by first responders, essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions, and adults over the age of 65.
Phase II, which is anticipated to launch by the end of February, includes homeless and disabled populations and those who live and work in congregant settings, like group homes and prisons. Phase III includes the general population and is expected to begin by April. As vaccines are made available, the website will also include who can get a vaccine and how to schedule.
SVMC instituted many changes throughout the pandemic to ensure safe care, including expanded telehealth opportunities, a virtual waiting room, and symptom checks at entrances. Clinical staff urge patients not to delay primary care, specialty care, or regular screenings. Doing so could increase the likelihood of severe illness and hospitalization.
Those who have questions may call the COVID-19 Hotline at 802-440-8844.