As Berkeley awaits shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, frontline healthcare workers at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center will be among the first to be vaccinated.
Alameda County expects to receive 12,675 doses of the vaccine as early as Tuesday, according to an Alameda County press release. Berkeley is allocated 975 doses, all of which will be directed to hospital workers including those at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, a hospital part of the Sutter Health network.
Sutter Health Vice President of Pharmacy Ryan Stice said in a press conference that the Sutter Health system is excited and “completely prepared” for the arrival of the vaccine, and has been working to ensure that the vaccine is equitably distributed.
“We are set to begin vaccinating within hours of receiving the vaccine,” Stice said during the conference. “We want to make sure our staff is protected and able to continue to care for the public.”
Workers at high risk of COVID-19 exposure during patient interactions will be prioritized to receive the vaccine, Stice added.
According to Jordan Kilbourn, a registered nurse at Alta Bates, emergency room workers will be the first priority for vaccination at Alta Bates, followed by anyone who is in regular contact with COVID-19 positive patients.
Kathy Natan, a registered nurse at Alta Bates, felt that a vaccine will relieve some of the tension surrounding COVID-19. Getting the vaccine enables her to “dispel medical misinformation” and set an example for the public. Natan added that with a vaccine, her patients can be reassured that she is not a source of infection.
“I work at the only hospital in Berkeley,” Natan said in an email. “Being one of the first recipients of the vaccine makes me feel that the community agrees that frontline work is important, we are valuable, and that the workforce is worth protecting.”
As a labor and delivery nurse in a high-risk unit, Kilborn said in an email she definitely plans to receive the vaccine, as the vaccine is “incredibly important” to protect the safety of the infants she works with. While vaccination is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged, she added.
Mary Neel, a registered nurse at Alta Bates, also plans to get the vaccine and considers potential risks of the vaccine to be unfounded. In an email, she said the pandemic has led to stress and anxiety, and the vaccine brings her comfort.
“It’s important to continue the fight against this deadly virus and I think of the vaccine as armor,” Neel said in an email. “Taking action to protect myself is also protecting my patients and our community.”