Northside Hospital Forsyth has received its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines and has already begun administering doses.
According to Katherine Watson, the hospital systems content supervisor for marketing and public relations, hospital staff were the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine starting on Thursday afternoon.
“We have designated vaccination sites at all of our hospital campuses, and are following direction from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] and DPH [Georgia Department of Public Health] that the limited vaccine supply be administered initially to frontline health care workers and residents and patients in assisted living and rehabilitation facilities,” Watson said. “Employees and providers with the highest risk of exposure are receiving the voluntary vaccine first.”
Watson said the first to receive the vaccines “were frontline workers with the highest risks of COVID exposure – primarily emergency department and ICU physicians and staff.”
As of noon on Friday, about 80 employees and physicians had receives vaccinations: 48 on Thursday and 32 on Friday.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the first emergency use authorization of the vaccine was approved on Monday, Dec. 14, for those 16 and older.
Georgia Highlands Medical Services is also a registered vaccine site, but officials said they are awaiting additional information on the vaccine.
As of Friday, the Food and Drug Administration was evaluating a shot developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health and was expected to give it the green light soon, clearing the way for its use to begin as early as Monday.
That would give the U.S. a critical new weapon against the coronavirus in addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine now being dispensed to millions of health care workers and nursing home patients as part of the biggest vaccination drive in American history.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health District 2, the district has received 975 doses of the vaccine and will begin vaccinating emergency medical personnel starting on Monday, Dec. 21.
“Following the Georgia Department of Public Health’s vaccination plan and recommendations from the Centers for Disease and Control to first vaccinate frontline healthcare workers, public health is excited to begin this phase of the coronavirus response”, said Dr. Zachary Taylor in a news release. “Getting a vaccine to combat this disease and save lives is remarkable. With news of Moderna Vaccine being authorized for emergency use, we will now have two vaccines and will be able to vaccinate more people
Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers said the department was reviewing all information but did not have a plan of action in place for vaccinations as of Friday afternoon.
Watson said those with questions about the vaccine should go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html and encouraged the community to continue wearing masks any time they are around others, wash hands and use hand sanitizer often and to stay out or crowds and at least six feet apart from others.
The Associated Press, Brian Paglia and Ashlyn Yule contributed to this report