In three weeks Geisinger has ramped up to the point of more than 1,000 vaccines per day over the past week, totaling approximately 12,000 people with their first dose of the COVID vaccine. When people get their first doses, they’re scheduled immediately to receive their second dose. Receiving that second dose is a critical step in the COVID vaccine process. Both doses are necessary to trigger the immune response needed to develop an immunity level against COVID-19.
Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center nurse Tara Skutack was the first health care worker to receive the second vaccine dose on Wednesday at the hospital.
“I received the COVID vaccine for my family and patients,” Skutack said. “I’m excited for a better and healthier future. So far, I’m feeling great.”
Resident physician Muhammad Sabih Saleem, M.D., said he received the vaccine as a step in moving forward, and as someone who cares for COVID patients.
“I currently work in the intensive care unit and see COVID patients every day,” Saleem said. “It’s up to us to take this first step forward so that everyone else will join us when the vaccine becomes available to them. I feel relieved after getting the vaccine — we have been waiting for it for a long time. It’s a step towards a better future.”
Geisinger has been receiving the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at facilities over the past few weeks. The Pfizer vaccine was received first, and front-line employee vaccines began on December 16. Both vaccines require two doses, with the second dose needing to be given between 26 and 30 days after the first.
Emergency medicine physician Luke Sullivan, D.O., said his family was a major motivator for why he received the vaccine.
“I got the COVID vaccine so I could safely take care of my patients and remain healthy while doing so,” Sullivan said. “I also got it for my 2-year-old, my wife who works in healthcare, and my elderly parents, who I haven’t been able to see. It feels awesome to have received my second dose and I look toward the future.”
In line with state guidelines and recommendations, Geisinger has been focusing on vaccinating its employees and healthcare workers. Geisinger is in the process of reaching out to EMS personnel and community providers to coordinate their vaccines, in alignment with the PA Department of Health order to use 10 percent of the vaccine supply to vaccinate those in Tier 1A. The vaccine is being administered as quickly as it can, but is completely dependent on supply, staffing and the logistics with distribution.
While it’s expected to be well into the year until the vaccine becomes widely available to the public, Geisinger is working to make it easy to receive both COVID vaccine doses, including making the vaccine available at no cost to patients.
With more shipments of the vaccines making their way to Geisinger and many in the community receiving the vaccine, Geisinger continues to encourage the preventive measures that have been stressed to help stop the spread of the virus as it’s expected to be well into the summer before vaccines are readily available for all community members. Everyone, including those who receive the vaccine, should continue to properly wear a mask, avoid group gatherings, maintain physical distancing and practice proper handwashing.
For answers to questions about the vaccine, visit the Geisinger COVID-19 vaccine resources center at geisinger.org/COVIDvax.
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a Research Institute and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With nearly 24,000 employees and more than 1,700 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.