First healthcare workers receive COVID-19 vaccine at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital

Manuela Hitz, nursing supervisor at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital received the first of
Manuela Hitz, nursing supervisor at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital received the first of 975 COVID-19 vaccines allotted to Foundation Health Partners (FHP) Thursday December, 17th at 7:50 a.m.(Foundation Health Partners)
Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 3:14 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks Memorial Hospital received their first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday and begin vaccinating staff on Thursday.

According to a press release sent out by Foundation Heath Partners, Manuela Hitz, nursing supervisor at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital received the first of 975 COVID-19 vaccines allotted to Foundation Health Partners (FHP) today at 7:50 a.m.

“I hope that I can be a role model to a lot of people out there, especially health care workers to come in and get the vaccine,” Hitz said. After receiving her vaccine and waiting the recommended 15 minutes, Hitz supported efforts to vaccinate other staff by volunteering to be a vaccine administrator

“I just trust in the process. I believe in science. I think the whole world came together to make this happen. I am just so happy that it finally got distributed,” Hitz said.

FHP will disseminate the 975 vaccine allotment over the next four days, with the second required dose to be administered 21 days from the first. Employees and medical staff who receive the vaccine today, will receive their second dose on Jan. 7, 2021. FHP plans to administer 288 vaccines today, filling every available appointment. Employees and medical staff are prescheduled and are vaccinated at one of six stations in the temporary Vaccine Clinic that was set up in the McGown, Kiewit and Chandler conference rooms.

The release went on to state that FHP is grateful to have received the allotment of vaccines that will help ensure the safety and well-being of its health care workforce. The excitement, joy and emotion could be felt throughout the room as employees and medical staff received this game-changing vaccine.

“Our workers are here to take care of people, for those sick from COVID, as well as those who suffer a stroke or heart attack or are here to deliver a baby, we want to be here,” said Chief Medical Office Angelique Ramirez. “This vaccine is a way for us to be here and protect our people so that we can continue to serve.”

According to a press release from the Interior Alaska Unified Command, the Tanana Chiefs Conference also received its first box of 975 vaccines.

TCC is acting as a “mini depot” for the state and has partnered with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and the tribal health system for the distribution of the vaccine in rural areas. In order to use every dose without wasting, very careful planning is required. The logistics of creating a rural vaccination schedule are very complex. This includes coordination of travel by small airplane, then snow machine, as well as developing lists of vaccine recipients before arrival in a village, are all challenges to this effort.

TCC will be working in the villages to provide the vaccine to the groups included Phase 1A according to established priorities: rural health providers and health aides, long term care facility residents and staff, and elders over age 75 years.

Once the vaccine is removed from the super cold freezer, it must be kept at strict refrigerator temperatures for no longer than 120 hours. Before use, it must be diluted; once diluted, it must be administered or used within six hours.

TCC’s Kyle Wright said, “I know that some people have concerns about the safety of this vaccine. I encourage everyone to do their homework, speak with their health care providers and most of all use reliable, verified sources of information. Ask your primary healthcare provider for guidance and read the information from experts who have knowledge and experience on immunology.”

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