The day before Christmas, Stacey Dean, a nurse at Family Medicine in Cortlandville, anxiously awaited her turn at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.
She was among the Guthrie employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, made available nationwide to front-line health professionals as the process began to eventually vaccinate more than 300 million Americans against the virus, which has infected 19.7 million Americans, killing 341,000.
“I was a little nervous,” she said Wednesday.
Dean quickly took a photo of her vaccination card with her cell phone and texted it to her husband and their two children.
“They were all really proud,” she said. “They were happy I went first (in her family). They are pretty anxious”
Her arm was sore for a couple of days, but she had no complications from the shot, which she likened to a tetanus vaccination.
Guthrie is administering the Moderna vaccine. The second of two does is administered 28 days after the first, and Dean, who has worked for four years at Family Medicine on West Road in Cortlandville, is scheduled to receive hers Jan. 21.
Healthcare workers and nursing home residents are among the first to begin receiving vaccinations. It is unclear when the general population will begin to get them. Nationwide, an initial delivery of 11 million doses had been distributed across the United States and about 2 million had been administered by early this week.
Hospital President Jennifer Yartym estimated a third of the 900 Guthrie employees in the Cortland area had been vaccinated since Dec. 23, with none reporting any reactions.
Tompkins County begins vaccination clinics
ITHACA — Cayuga Health System vaccinated 390 people at a clinic this week, mostly hospital workers, nursing home residents and staff and emergency medical service workers, Tompkins County announced Wednesday.
It began vaccinating front-line medical workers on Dec. 21.
“Starting next week, the vaccine eligibility will expand to all healthcare workers and will continue to broaden to the general population over the next few weeks,” said Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “We ask the public to continue being patient and follow our updates so you know when to get your vaccine.”
“We are urging everyone in our community to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as it becomes available. It is important for everyone who is medically able to receive the vaccine to get it to achieve enough immunity in our community to stop the pandemic and protect yourself and loved ones,” Kruppa added. “Herd immunity or community immunity means a high percentage of people — at least 70% of the population — are vaccinated and their immunity will stop the virus from spreading, as well as protect those who are unable to get the vaccine.”
The hospital over the next couple of weeks will continue the clinics for its staff and public employees, such as emergency medical technicians, who were identified by the state as priorities, Yartym said.
“We have a number of people signed up,” said Trish Hansen, a spokeswoman for TLC Emergency Medical Services. Some were being vaccinated Wednesday and others today.
“It’s a relief,” Hansen said.
Cortland Fire Chief Wayne Friedman said EMTs are next to get vaccinated. All the city’s paid firefighters are EMTs, “so they’re qualified to receive the vaccines.”
The number of Cortland County residents who have died because of COVID-19 has been increasing quickly in recent weeks to 35 by Wednesday, driven mostly by 26 deaths of residents of two nursing homes, state and county data show.
The hospital diverted patients to other medical facilities for 20 hours Sunday and Monday as inpatient capacity exceeded 85 percent.
The number of medical/surgical and intensive care unit beds made available at Guthrie Cortland Regional Medical Center was increased recently to 57 from 36 as the state moved to expand capacity while a new wave of increased infections spread across the country.
Family Medicine sees about 90 patients a day, said Dean, a licensed practical nurse who graduated from a training program at Onondaga-CortlandMadison BOCES and who is attending Tompkins Community College working to become a registered nurse.
She encouraged people to educate themselves about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” Dean said. “That is where a lot of people’s fear and hesitation comes from.”