Sentara Healthcare received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
Officials said they received 11,700 doses from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
The vaccine doses are being offered to health care workers first which includes ICU staff, those working in COVID-19 units and others considered high risk for exposure to the virus.
The vaccine is optional for all Sentara employees and each of the vaccines requires two doses.
Sentara will start vaccinating employees Wednesday, offering the vaccine seven days a week at “varying times,” and staff will be screened for allergic reactions prior to receiving the vaccine, said Mary Morin, Sentara’s vice president of clinical effectiveness.
Per the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the first phase of people receiving the vaccine are health care workers at high risk of getting the coronavirus, including emergency department staff, respiratory unit staff and even, food service workers.
Morin added there are actually five subcategories in Phase 1a –– mostly health care workers and some high risk populations –– but the community phase is Phase 1b, which means the public won’t get the vaccine until the “late first quarter 2021 or sometime early second 2021 when that vaccine becomes widely available.”
Sentara also expects 20,800 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna on Dec. 21.
Those who take the Pfizer vaccine need the second dose around 21 days after the first dose and people who take the Moderna vaccine need the second dose around 28 days.
In an emailed survey sent to employees, Morin said about 80-85 percent said they would take the vaccine.
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