TidalHealth has begun what is anticipated to be a month-long process of vaccinating its healthcare team against COVID-19.
The first administration of the Pfizer vaccine occurred this morning at TidalHealth Nanticoke in Seaford, Delaware. Dr. Joseph Kim, a TidalHealth primary care physician in Laurel, Delaware, was the first in the health system to receive it.
Registered nurse Delajuan Coston was the first staff member vaccinated at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional in Salisbury, Maryland. Delajuan has worked in the Robert T. Adkins, M.D. Emergency/Trauma Center for 16 months, and has been on the frontline of the pandemic caring for patients.
“The past nine months have been extremely challenging for everyone, but there is now great reason to be optimistic,” said Steve Leonard, Ph.D., MBA, FACHE, and President/CEO of TidalHealth. “Everyone wants to move past our pandemic restrictions and return to a normal life. The most important step to getting us there is this vaccine, and TidalHealth is honored to be leading the effort.”
The vaccine comes with a 90 percent effectiveness rate. The flu vaccine is usually 40 to 60 percent effective. The goal is to vaccinate every direct and indirect healthcare employee at TidalHealth who wants it, starting with the frontline team.
“We know our front line team has worked tireless for many months. This vaccine delivery to our healthcare team is an encouraging first step towards moving forward and combating this virus,” said Kathryn Fiddler, DNP, MBA, RN, Vice President of Population Health at TidalHealth and the health system’s lead on vaccine distribution.
The COVID-19 staff vaccinations are voluntary but are highly encouraged for every member of the nearly 4,700-person TidalHealth healthcare team as vaccine becomes available. All information indicates the vaccine is safe for those 16 and older, with no or very limited and manageable side effects. Working with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, staff and residents of TidalHealth’s Alice B. Tawes Nursing Home and Chesapeake Cove Assisted Living Center in Crisfield are scheduled to be vaccinated within the next two to three weeks.
Due to a very limited initial supply of vaccine, TidalHealth is following CDC recommendations for a phased rollout. A multidisciplinary team has been developing the plan for a number of weeks.
First to be vaccinated are TidalHealth frontline healthcare employees who are at the greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional and TidalHealth Nanticoke. That will include providers, nurses and others, like respiratory and pulmonary staff, who have close and direct contact with COVID-positive patients in areas including the emergency department, the ICU, and COVID critical and medical care units and floors.
Phase 2 will include staff who have responsibilities in and around COVID areas including departments like registration, environmental services, food and nutrition, transporters and other inpatient and outpatient providers and clinical units.
Phases 3 and 4 will include staff at all offsite physician practices and healthcare locations and the remainder of all non-clinical employees not included in the early phases.
Once all staff choosing to be vaccinated have been, TidalHealth will assist the health departments in our region to vaccinate the general community based on vaccine availability.
“COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on our healthcare providers, families and our entire community. It will take all of us, working together to get this vaccine to our communities,” added Dr. Fiddler. “We are committed to supporting health departments and other agencies in making this successful.”
TidalHealth reminds our communities that the initial arrival of the vaccine does not signal the end of the precautions everyone has been taking. Continue to limit large gatherings, socially distance, wear face coverings and regularly sanitize your hands. We all have an ongoing obligation to keep each other safe, particularly at this time of traditional holiday gatherings.