‘Exciting Day’ for Rochester as Vaccinations Begin for Health Care Workers

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Patti  Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

(Versión en español disponible.)

 Transportation worker Carlos Rosa of Rochester, left, was the first of 10 employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse and director of employee health Laura Caruso, Dec, 14, 2020. Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester     Emergency Medicine nurse practitioner Bradley Bastian of Pittsford NY, left was one of ten employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse and director of employee health Laura Caruso, December 14, 2020. Medical Center researchers and volunteers in Rochester were involved in clinical trials that led to the vaccine's approval by the FDA last Friday. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester     Emergency Medicine nurse practitioner Bradley Bastian of Pittsford NY, left was one of ten employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse and director of employee health Laura Caruso, December 14, 2020. Medical Center researchers and volunteers in Rochester were involved in clinical trials that led to the vaccine's approval by the FDA last Friday. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester     Respiratory therapist Wondie Endeshaw, pictured awaiting his dose, was one of ten employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine December 14, 2020. Medical Center researchers and volunteers in Rochester were involved in clinical trials that led to the vaccine's approval by the FDA last Friday. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester     Respiratory therapist Wondie Endeshaw, pictured awaiting his dose, was one of ten employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine December 14, 2020. Medical Center researchers and volunteers in Rochester were involved in clinical trials that led to the vaccine's approval by the FDA last Friday. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester     Emergency room dentist Armando Uribe Rivera of Pittsford, NY, left was one of ten employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse Amanda Davis, December 14, 2020. Medical Center researchers and volunteers in Rochester were involved in clinical trials that led to the vaccine's approval by the FDA last Friday. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Transportation worker Carlos Rosa of Rochester, left, was the first of 10 employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse and director of employee health Laura Caruso, Dec, 14, 2020. Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester 

Rochester received its first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 14 and 15 and according to protocol from the state Department of Health, they went to frontline healthcare workers most at risk of contracting the virus.

The University of Rochester Medical Center vaccinated some high-risk employees on Dec. 14. Carlos Rosa, who works in transport at Strong Memorial Hospital, was the first person in Rochester to receive the vaccine outside of a clinical trial.

“I’m looking forward to this so I can lead the way and be closer to my family,” Rosa said in a video supplied by URMC. “I’ve been very distant because of COVID and I feel I’m taking the right steps so I can back to them. COVID really destroyed the interaction I was having with my family.”

“Today is an exciting day for our community,” Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Public Health said during a news conference Dec. 15 to announce the vaccine’s arrival. “We’ve been through a long nine months together.”

Mendoza was scheduled to receive his first dose of vaccine on Dec. 16. He also is a family medicine doctor at Highland Hospital and he said he was chosen by a random process used to select providers at high risk. His vaccination will not be public, according to a spokeswoman for the health department.

The vaccine is being heralded as the light at the end of the tunnel, but for many people that light right now is a candle and not a floodlamp.

Depending on the supply, it could be summer until the general population has the opportunity to get the vaccine. The early batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the soon-to-be expected Moderna vaccine are being doled out to health care workers in emergency and intensive care units and others who come in contact with people who have COVID, nursing home workers and residents, people with illnesses that put them at higher risk and first responders.

Availability also could depend on demand. According to the publication The Hill, which covers Congress, more than 25% of Americans said they will not take the vaccine.

“A lot people are scared,” said Aijah Cook, a licensed practical nurse in the Rochester General Hospital emergency department. She received her first dose of vaccine on Dec. 15.
“They think the government is out to get them,” she said. “I think with proper research and proper education and knowledge, I think a lot of that would go away. But I don’t think the proper education is given, is readily available. If it were, I don’t think as many people would be afraid.”

She said people need facts so they can decide what is best for themselves and their family.

Monroe County will be developing an education campaign, County Executive Adam Bello said during the news conference. He said it will take into account people’s perceptions of the vaccine and be delivered in ways that are meaningful to diverse audiences. He also said the county is ensuring that as vaccine becomes available, it is equitably distributed.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Clinical trials were held in Rochester. The Moderna vaccine also is expected to get emergency authorization. A third vaccine, from AstraZeneca, also could be in that pipeline.

Emergency use authorization is not the same as FDA approval. According to a fact sheet provided to people who receive the vaccine, the FDA may grant emergency use when there are no approved, adequate alternatives. The decision takes into account all the scientific evidence available that shows the vaccine may prevent COVID-19 during the pandemic and that benefits outweigh risks.

Cook said she talked to doctors in the emergency department about the vaccine and the more she looked into it, the more comfortable she became. “The good outweighs the bad,” she said.

She said she had an aunt who died from COVID. “If this prevents me from getting it, I’m all for it,” she said.

Regardless of manufacturer, the vaccine requires two doses given 21 days apart. Dr. Michael Apostolakos, chief medical officer at Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals, said initial data show a person gets some immunity 10 days after receiving the second dose.

He said data show the vaccine prevents people from getting sick with COVID-19. But it’s yet to be proven that the vaccine prevents transmission of the virus from one person to another.

“No matter whether a person has been vaccinated or not, for the time being we are recommending the community and those vaccinated to stay masked, stay socially distanced and keep your hands clean,” he said. “We’re going to be recommending that for some months.”

Health officials have said that at least 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve “herd immunity,” whereby the illness is not easily spread. Apostolakos said that prospect is months away.
Prentice McKnight rolled up his sleeve to be among the first health care workers at RGH to receive the vaccine.

“I’m excited,” the environmental services workers said as he was among about 20 frontline workers at Rochester General Hospital to receive the initial vaccine authorized to try to prevent infection from the novel coronavirus.

“I want to be an example for the people that are unsure or unwilling, who don’t want to get it,” he said. “I trust in science. The science said it’s safe. I believe everything is going to work out.”

Un día emocionante para Rochester mientras comienzan las vacunaciones de los trabajadores de la salud

Patty Singer

pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Rochester recibió sus primeras dosis de la vacuna Pfizer-BioNTech el 14 y 15 de diciembre y, según el protocolo del Departamento de Salud del estado, se dirigieron a los trabajadores sanitarios de primera línea con mayor riesgo de contraer el virus.

El Centro Médico de la Universidad de Rochester vacunó a algunos empleados de alto riesgo el 14 de diciembre. Carlos Rosa, que trabaja en transporte en el Hospital Strong Memorial, fue la primera persona en Rochester en recibir la vacuna fuera de un ensayo clínico.

“Estoy esperando esto para poder ayudar a los demás y estar más cerca de mi familia”, dijo Rosa en un video suministrado por el URMC. “He estado muy distante debido al COVID y siento que estoy tomando los pasos correctos para poder volver a ellos. COVID realmente destruyó la interacción que tenía con mi familia”.

“Hoy es un día emocionante para nuestra comunidad”, dijo el Dr. Michael Mendoza, comisionado del Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Monroe durante una conferencia de prensa el 15 de diciembre para anunciar la llegada de la vacuna. “Hemos pasado juntos nueve meses muy largos”.

Mendoza tenía previsto recibir su primera dosis de vacuna el 16 de diciembre. También es médico de medicina familiar en el Hospital Highland y dijo que fue elegido por un proceso al azar utilizado para seleccionar proveedores de alto riesgo. Su vacunación no será pública, según una portavoz del departamento de salud.

La vacuna está siendo anunciada como la luz al final del túnel, pero para mucha gente esa luz ahora mismo es una vela y no un foco.

Dependiendo del suministro, podría ser en el verano cuando la población en general tenga la oportunidad de recibir la vacuna. Los primeros lotes de la vacuna Pfizer-BioNTech y la que pronto se espera que sea Moderna se están distribuyendo a los trabajadores de la salud en las unidades de emergencia y de cuidados intensivos y a otras personas que entran en contacto con personas que tienen COVID, trabajadores y residentes de asilos de ancianos, personas con enfermedades que los ponen en mayor riesgo y los trabajadores esenciales.

La disponibilidad también podría depender de la demanda. Según la publicación The Hill, que cubre el Congreso, más del 25% de los estadounidenses dijeron que no tomarán la vacuna.

“Mucha gente está asustada”, dijo Aijah Cook, una enfermera práctica licenciada en el departamento de emergencias del Hospital General de Rochester. Ella recibió su primera dosis de la vacuna el 15 de diciembre.

“Piensan que el gobierno está tratando de conseguirlas”, dijo. “Creo que con la investigación adecuada y la educación y el conocimiento adecuados, creo que mucho de eso desaparecería. Pero no creo que la educación adecuada se dé, esté disponible fácilmente. Si así fuera, no creo que tanta gente tenga miedo”.

Dijo que la gente necesita hechos para poder decidir qué es lo mejor para ellos y su familia.

El condado de Monroe desarrollará una campaña de educación, dijo el ejecutivo del condado Adam Bello durante la conferencia de prensa. Dijo que tendrá en cuenta las percepciones de la gente sobre la vacuna y que se entregará de manera significativa a diversas audiencias. También dijo que el condado está asegurando que a medida que la vacuna esté disponible, se distribuya equitativamente.

La vacuna Pfizer-BioNTech recibió autorización de uso de emergencia de la Administración de Drogas y Alimentos. Los ensayos clínicos se llevaron a cabo en Rochester. También se espera que la vacuna Moderna obtenga una autorización de emergencia. Una tercera vacuna, de AstraZeneca, también podría estar en camino.

La autorización de uso de emergencia no es lo mismo que la aprobación de la FDA. Según una hoja informativa proporcionada a las personas que reciben la vacuna, la FDA puede conceder el uso de emergencia cuando no hay alternativas adecuadas aprobadas. La decisión tiene en cuenta todas las pruebas científicas disponibles que demuestran que la vacuna puede prevenir el COVID-19 durante la pandemia y que los beneficios superan los riesgos.

Cook dijo que habló con los médicos del departamento de emergencias sobre la vacuna y que cuanto más la estudiaba, más cómoda se sentía. “Lo bueno supera lo malo”, dijo.

Dijo que tenía una tía que murió de COVID. “Si esto impide que me vacunen, estoy a favor”, dijo.

Independientemente del fabricante, la vacuna requiere dos dosis administradas con 21 días de diferencia. El Dr. Michael Apostolakos, jefe médico de los hospitales Strong Memorial y Highland, dijo que los datos iniciales muestran que una persona obtiene cierta inmunidad 10 días después de recibir la segunda dosis.

Dijo que los datos muestran que la vacuna previene que la gente se enferme con COVID-19. Pero aún no se ha demostrado que la vacuna previene la transmisión del virus de una persona a otra.

“No importa si una persona ha sido vacunada o no, por el momento estamos recomendando a la comunidad y a los vacunados que permanezcan enmascarados, que se mantengan socialmente distantes y que se mantengan con las manos limpias”, dijo. “Vamos a recomendar eso por algunos meses”.

Los funcionarios de salud han dicho que al menos el 70% de la población necesita ser vacunada para lograr la “inmunidad de la manada”, por lo que la enfermedad no se propaga fácilmente. Apostolakos dijo que esa perspectiva está a meses de distancia.

Prentice McKnight se arremangó la camisa para ser uno de los primeros trabajadores de la salud de la RGH en recibir la vacuna.

“Estoy emocionado”, dijo el trabajador de servicios ambientales mientras estaba entre los 20 trabajadores de primera línea en el Hospital General de Rochester para recibir la vacuna inicial autorizada para tratar de prevenir la infección del nuevo coronavirus.

“Quiero ser un ejemplo para la gente que no está segura o no quiere, que no quiere recibirla”, dijo. “Confío en la ciencia. La ciencia dijo que es seguro. Creo que todo va a funcionar”.