The first 10 Baptist Health Hardin patient-facing employees – including pulmonary and critical care physicians, a housekeeping staff member, patient-facing nurses from the emergency department, Critical Care and COVID-19 units, patient admission staff, pharmacists, chaplain and respiratory therapists – received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine starting at noon.
“Today marks a significant pandemic turning point for all of us in Central Kentucky,” said Dr. Matthew Stiles, Baptist Health Hardin Medical Group Chief Medical Director. “I have personally been part of the COVID-19 vaccine trials and am excited to see these critical vaccines begin. The Baptist Health Hardin team tirelessly cares for patients and these heroes deserve protection from COVID-19.”
High-risk healthcare workers were given priority for the first shipment of 2,100 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that arrived at the hospital at 9:43 a.m. on Wednesday.
These doses are the first of the two-dose vaccine; booster shots will be administered 28 days later. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require an initial dose and a booster dose.
The vaccine arrives after months of anticipation and weeks of planning according to Steve White, Baptist Health Hardin Assistant Vice President of Operations.
“A multidisciplinary team purchased ultra-cold storage units, prepared facilities, and prioritized staff, creating a plan to make sure vaccines are efficiently administered,” White said. “We are grateful to be able to offer our team this important protection against COVID-19.”
Moderna is the second vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in addition to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine distributed to select Kentucky hospitals last week. Vaccine supply is very limited, with the initial doses prioritized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for front line healthcare workers and nursing home staff and residents.
Baptist Health Hardin has twice surveyed employees about taking the vaccine. Top priority is given to volunteer staff in higher-risk departments, such as the Emergency Department and critical care units, and others, such as housekeepers and physicians, who have regular contact with patients with COVID-19.
Both vaccines have proven very effective (95 percent for Pfizer and 94 percent for Moderna) but the Moderna vaccine is easier to handle because it does not require ultra-cold storage.
Baptist Health, the state’s largest health system, has equipped itself to vaccinate front-line healthcare workers in all of its facilities by investing system-wide in freezers and other special equipment, training and devoting thousands of man-hours to vaccine planning.
Dennis Johnson, Baptist Health Hardin President and CEO, noted that the vaccine is just one part of our community’s response to COVID-19.
“We know the vaccine will help us begin getting back to normal in all our facilities,” Johnson said. “I could not be prouder of our entire team for all they have done for patients during this pandemic. However, COVID-19 is by no means over, so please keep doing everything you and your family can to avoid spreading the virus.”