Governor Jay Inslee announced that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines could be administered as soon as Tuesday. Healthcare systems like UW Medicine have been preparing for this moment.
“We’re primed to do that at all of our hospitals within UW Medicine, and we’re already scheduling people,” said Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, a professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine.
Dr. Dhanireddy, who is also the Chair of the UW Medicine, Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, has been tasked with developing the vaccine prioritization plan at UW Medicine.
She said every person who is working directly in the Covid unit-from environmental services, to nursing and phlebotomy-will be eligible to be vaccinated. Emergency medicine, ER staff and providers, will also be eligible.
Dhanireddy said they started scheduling people on Friday, expecting their first shipment of vaccines this week.
UW is strongly encouraging employees to schedule the vaccine right before having a day or two off so they can monitor for potential symptoms from home.
“The majority of people will have symptoms within the first 48 hours, and most likely within the first 72 hours,” said Dhanireddy.
Health experts say symptoms seen in clinical trials have been mild. Neal Browning from Redmond participated in the first Covid-19 vaccine trial and said, “The worst problems were usually a light fever, feeling lethargic, achy and tired with possibly some sore muscles, and those lasted some 24-48 hours after the injection and then were gone.”
Browning continues getting blood draws every few months to make sure his body is functioning normally after receiving the mRNA vaccine.
“This has been tracked. There’s been hundreds of thousands of people at different levels of this making sure that it’s safe as possible. The scientists are looking at this, looking at our blood, making sure we aren’t having any issues,” said Browning.
There’s no doubt the development of the Covid-19 vaccine is groundbreaking. Studies are also still being done on long term efficacy, side effects and for specific groups like children and expecting mothers.
“From within the timeline of vaccine immunology, this is tremendous and the efficacy that we are seeing in these vaccines, these mRNA vaccines, is incredible and so this is extremely exciting and so that’s what’s motivating us,” said Dhanireddy. “There will need to be great intention to make sure we reach communities that have hesitation or maybe not enough education about this vaccine.”
Yasmeen Mosley is an expecting mother from West Seattle who doesn’t plan on getting vaccinated for a while.
“Absolutely not. I mean for one I am a pregnant woman and I am a black African-American in the United States, and overall history has shown that black people in the United States cannot trust Public Health when it comes to vaccines,” said Mosley.
However, Mosley said she’s open to getting vaccinated eventually when more information becomes available and after having an honest conversation with a healthcare provider who she trusts.
Healthcare professionals say there’s a lot of information to digest, and getting vaccinated in Washington State is voluntary.
While the vaccine is arriving this week, public health leaders are urging people to keep up with social distancing and masking to keep the coronavirus from spreading further.