|Atrium Health rolls out second dose of COVID-19 vaccine|
|Booster inoculations follow earlier round|
|Published Friday, January 8, 2021|
|PHOTO | ATRIUM HEALTH|
|COVID-19 vaccine is stored in a freezer at Atrium Health in Charlotte. The health care provider administered booster doses of the vaccine this week.|
The first person to receive the Food and Drug Administration-approved COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine was Dr. Katie Passaretti, Atrium Health’s medical director of infection prevention. She was the first person in North Carolina vaccinated on Dec. 14, and she received her second dose 21 days after the first. Passaretti explained during her media availability that the ideal window for the vaccine’s second dose is 19-23 days following the first. Protection from the vaccine should kick in within a week to 14 days.
“Midday, I got my second vaccine,” Passaretti said. “It was very much like the first one—no problems immediately after the vaccine. [I] really felt no different than the first time around, and so far [I’m] doing fine. [I’m] very excited to have completed the vaccine series. It’s been wonderful over the past couple weeks watching more and more people getting vaccinated and doing well with that. It gives me hope for the coming weeks [and] moths, as far as getting the vaccine out to more and more people, and getting protection for our community.”
Passaretti said she felt a good amount of pain with the first injection, which she equated to a common side effect of any vaccination. Studies have shown that side effects, such as feeling tired, muscle pain or fever, may be more common after the second dose. She said the next couple of days would be telling with regards to increased side effects with the second dose.
Atrium Health established a four-tier system to determine vaccination access. Those deemed high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 are deemed eligible. They are currently administering vaccines in Phase 1 a, which allows employees to register with the state to receive the vaccine.
Atrium Health reported 32,800 Phase 1a healthcare workers were invited to receive the initial vaccine as of 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 3. They also stated that 7,730 Phase 1a healthcare workers received the first vaccine, 13,740 Phase 1a healthcare workers scheduled their first vaccine and 13,540 Phase 1a healthcare workers scheduled their second vaccine.
Passaretti said the guarantee from the state is that the second dose will be available for those who get the first dose. There is no anticipation of running out of the first dose. The injection is the same, and Passaretti described the supply as a “constant replenishment” from the state. She said they are interchangeable as long as the second supply is there.
“The state has said, ‘whatever you have, get it out there—get that first round of vaccinations going,’” Passaretti said.
While a new variant of the disease, which was first seen in the United Kingdom, is more transmissible, Passaretti does not believe the new strain will be severe enough to make the vaccine ineffective.
However, another concern heading into 2021 is vaccine hesitancy, particularly among communities of color. Chris Branner MD, specialty medical director of Urgent Care Services at Atrium Health, received the vaccine in December. He is encouraging other African Americans to do so as well. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 14,498 Black people in Mecklenburg County have been infected, and 207 have died from COVID-19.
“Issues related to vaccine hesitancy need to be addressed,” Passaretti said.
Passaretti said polling reveals that the more people are educated about the vaccine, the more willing they are to receive an injection.
“That is still an uphill battle,” Passaretti said. “The last I saw 60-65 percent of people were willing to get the vaccine. We need a large chunk of our community vaccinated in order to achieve that herd immunity.”
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