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MHM begins Phase 1A+ of COVID-19 vaccine

Wednesday, January 13, began the first day of administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination for the public under Phase 1A+ at Memorial Hospital and Manor.

Infection control nurse Lee Johnson said that their first day of vaccination saw 40 patients, but they anticipate just that many, if not more, in the days to come.

Newton Cranford, who mans the check-in station said they are currently booked a week and a half in advance, but individuals are still encouraged to call and get on the waiting list.

“Our process follows the CDC guidelines,” he said. “We ask people to call in and use the extension 340 and we will take a call-back list and call people as appointments become available.”

MHM has worked diligently to calm any fears in the public about the vaccine, by first administering the shot to their staff, while encouraging others who fall in the 1A+ category to sign up.

Johnson said the patients he had seen earlier in the day expressed zero to little concerns about the vaccine or possible side effects.

“They may be a little anxious, but I think they are more ready to get COVID over with,” Johnson said.

Johnson explained that in the trial study and in the people he has personally administered the vaccine to, the side effects have been very minimal.

“I see this (vaccine) as the only way to end this pandemic,” Johnson said. “Masks are good and they help, but they cannot end this pandemic; I see this vaccine as the only hope we have.”

Johnson hopes that some of the younger employees at the hospital who opted out of the vaccine see the vaccine being 65 and over and reconsider.

“I think they are just a little weary because they are younger,” he said. “They haven’t experienced a lot of the things our other generations have, coming through polio and things such as that.”

Once the vaccine is administered, Johnson keeps the patients for 15 minutes to make sure they don’t have any type of reaction, while they fill out a survey on how they believe the process went.

Johnson said they are looking for reactions such as anaphylaxis or a systemic reaction. If they have a severe reaction as listed, patients typically will not receive the second dosage of Moderna.

However, Johnson said in the 40 patients he saw none had the reaction.

Once the patient is cleared, they will receive a card with their first date of vaccination and are signed up to return in 28 days for their second and final vaccination.

Johnson said all adults ages 65+ are eligible for the vaccine; they are not just taking individuals with pre-existing conditions. He hopes this will encourage all older adults to promptly make an appointment.