(Joplin, MO) – Freeman Health System is giving priority to its clinical and patient-facing healthcare workers when it comes to those getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Administration of the vaccine is being prioritized for those at highest risk. On December 22, doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers received their first dose of the Moderna Vaccine.
Those working with patients in non-clinical settings will be the second group to be vaccinated, then other groups in the health system will get a chance to receive the vaccine.
“We are excited for the opportunity to offer this type of protection to our healthcare workers who have bravely put themselves at risk to care for those with COVID-19,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our staff has utilized every precaution available, from masks to helmets to gloves, and they appreciate another possible barrier against what can be a deadly virus.”
“I am relieved to be able to get the vaccine,” said Hilary Riley, Director of Emergency and Trauma services. “Caring for these patients can be stressful, but it is what we are called to do. Having the vaccine lifts some of the weight and worry off our shoulders so we can continue to focus on those in our care.”
Freeman is using the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which has a 94.5% efficacy rate. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) committee found “no specific safety concerns in a subgroup analyses by age, race, ethnicity, medical co-morbities or prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine utilizes messenger RNA. It is a new technology that injects the genes for “spike proteins” into healthy cells to induce an immune response. The FDA approved the Moderna under Emergency Use Authorization.
Moderna’s is a user-friendly vaccine that has a six-month shelf life in a regular freezer at minus 20 degrees Celsius and up to a 30 day shelf life in a refrigerator. Moderna requires two doses given weeks apart. The vaccine is generally well tolerated but recipients can experience injection site pain and, after the second dose, fatigue, aches, joint pain, headache, and/or pain and redness at the injection site.
Moderna previously collaborated with the National Institutes of Health on a vaccine for MERS-CoV, which is a different type of coronavirus than the current pandemic’s. While the program was only at the research stage, it provided significant insights as Moderna launched efforts for mRNA-1273. Before the Phase 1 study for mRNA-1273, Moderna had not previously tested a coronavirus vaccine in humans.
The process of vaccinating those interested will takes several weeks. Because of the limited amount of the vaccine available, the federal government is allotting the vaccine in phases. Freeman expects to receive multiple shipments over several weeks. The vaccination is not mandatory for Freeman staff.
Multiple vaccination sites will be set up for the convenience of employees. Employees who have already contracted COVID-19 are still eligible to receive the vaccine. Employees will make appointments to get the vaccine allowing, 30 minutes for each shot, as there is a 15-minute post-vaccination observation period.
About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.
Lisa Olliges, Freeman Health System
Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator