Mohawk Valley Health System Receives First Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccinations

UTICA, N.Y. – On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations. In preparation for the vaccine arrival, a Point of Dispersal (POD) location was set up to begin vaccinating MVHS healthcare workers as soon as possible.

“This is an exciting day for the Mohawk Valley as the COVID-19 vaccine provides a light at the end of the COVID tunnel,” said Kent Hall, MD, Chief Physician Executive at MVHS. “While it will likely take close to nine months to get everyone in the community vaccinated, this is a huge step in the right direction get the pandemic under control so that we can return to some sort of normalcy. I commend all those involved in getting the vaccine developed and distributed in unprecedented fashion. It will save many, many lives.”

The MVHS COVID Vaccine Planning Group has been hard at work developing the protocols for distribution as well as creating the infrastructure and plan to administer the vaccines as soon as they arrive.

Here are a few important things about the process for COVID-19 distribution and administration.

• Both the CDC and the NYS Department of Health have provided guidance for those who will be eligible for the first round of vaccines. Following these guidelines and with limited doses being shipped initially, the first priority group is hospital-based front-line workers. The attached algorithm was developed to prioritize who will be receiving the vaccine and when. This algorithm uses a three-step process for prioritization: 1) does the employee or provider work in an area with a large number of COVID-19 patients? 2) what is the frequency with which an employee or provider has direct patient contact that places them at risk? and 3) what is that individual’s risk by age group (those over 65 are given highest priority)? Nursing home residents and employees are also prioritized for vaccines, but they have a different, distinct process for vaccination than the one that will be used by MVHS.

• Everyone will eventually be vaccinated – it’s just being done in different phases. The second phase will include areas such as medical/surgical units, the psychiatric unit (FSLH), procedural areas, and general radiology. Then healthcare workers and providers with no or rare patient contact will be eligible for vaccination. The vaccine will be available to members of the community within the coming months as more vaccines are shipped, but we anticipate getting everyone vaccinated can take up to at least nine months.

• Once you are vaccinated, you should not change your safety behaviors. Whether it’s after your first or second dose (you must receive both doses), it is important that continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, appropriately social distance, and avoid any indoor gatherings. Remember it’s going to take some time for everyone in our region to be vaccinated so let’s not take any chances with our colleagues, our patients, our friends, our loved ones and members of our community.

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