Iberia Medical Center’s allotment of the COVID-19 vaccines arrived dark and early this morning at the Main Campus loading dock.
The shipment of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine arrived at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday as part of the national "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine initiative. Because the vaccine must be administered within a few days of the shipment's arrival, IMC staff was mobilized this morning to begin vaccinating front line employees and physicians.
“This is a historic moment for Iberia Medical Center, our staff, physicians and our community," said IMC Chief Executive Officer Dionne Viator. "Key members of the medical staff and hospital leadership have been planning for weeks to receive, safeguard and distribute the vaccine inventory. We believe the national COVID-19 vaccine is an effective first step in protecting not only our medical community but the entire parish."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 11. Shortly thereafter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave their recommendation for use, clearing the way for delivery and administration of the vaccine throughout the country.
"Our physicians and employees have been on the front lines of caring for our community during this pandemic, and we are grateful that the vaccine is available for healthcare workers in this initial rollout. We look forward to the vaccine’s availability to the entire community so that we can create community immunity and save lives,” Viator concluded.
"Early bird" members of the IMC medical staff to take the vaccine were Dr. Moses Kitakule, Pulmonologist and IMC COVID-19 Medical Director and Dr. Son Nguyen, IMC Chief of Medicine. Both physicians have been among members of the medical staff who have spoken about the need for the public to know that the vaccine is safe and critical to saving lives.
Among the first IMC staff to receive the vaccine this morning was the IMC Emergency Department Manager and an IMC ICU staff nurse.
Initial supplies of the vaccines are limited. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has provided guidelines for vaccine prioritization in phases, with healthcare workers and nursing home residents in the first iteration.