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As Vaccines Arrive, Montco Hospitals Hope For 'Normalcy In 2021'

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: PATCH
As Vaccines Arrive, Montco Hospitals Hope For 'Normalcy In 2021'

Shout out to reporter, Justin Heinze from Patch.com for his excellent coverage on Suburban Community Hospital and our community. We look forward to working with you again!!

"We are excited to be part of history as we started the process of vaccinating our employees," Dave Schmidt, the Chief Nursing Officer at Suburban Community Hospital.

As Vaccines Arrive, Montco Hospitals Hope For 'Normalcy In 2021'

As Montco hospitals receive new vaccine shipments this week, they're hopeful it will help a return to "some form of normalcy" by late 2021.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — As Montgomery County hospitals see even more shipments of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine arrive this week, they're optimistic that they've taken the huge first step down a long path to ending the pandemic.

A total of 30,255 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were received by 22 hospitals across Pennsylvania Tuesday, including Lankenau Medical Center. A total of 109 hospitals in Pennsylvania, and nine in Montgomery County, have now received doses for the healthcare workers at highest risk of COVID-19 transmission.

"We are excited to be part of history as we started the process of vaccinating our employees," Dave Schmidt, the Chief Nursing Officer at Suburban Community Hospital, told Patch. "...Now we are at the forefront of hopefully taking control of the virus so that we may return to some form of normalcy in late 2021."

>>Positivity Rate And New COVID Cases Start To See Dip In Montco

Moderna's vaccine, which does not require ultra-cold storage like Pfizer, is also rolling out to 51 hospitals statewide this week, even as more hospitals receive additional Pfizer shipments.

"Hospitals are making arrangements to implement these vaccinations, not only to their own frontline staff but to other high-priority recipients," Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said Tuesday. 'The number of people we can immunize truly depends on how quickly the manufacturers can make the vaccine."

In Montgomery County, doctors and nurses at hospitals have not reported any adverse reactions to receiving the vaccine.

"It was unlike anything a lot of us had ever experienced," Dr. Gerard Cleary, the chief medical officer and chief of staff at Abington – Jefferson Health, told Patch on Monday. "There was so much positive energy, and a real sense of excitement to get going with it. This is the start of ending a lot of suffering."

Schmidt said Suburban has been administering Pfizer doses since Dec. 17. The mood in the hospital has been "upbeat."

"It is a common sight to see staff taking selfies or having others take their pictures as they make history by receiving their vaccines," Schmidt added.

Hospital officials compared receiving the vaccine to the flu shot, saying that some arm soreness was the common side effect.

While some officials are looking toward late 2021 as a possible goal for normalcy, there remains much work to be done. Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh noted they "have a lot of work to do" to truly defeat the virus. She said that about 85 percent of the community needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.

Meanwhile, phase one of vaccine distribution, which is for critical populations like hospital workers and long term care residents, is expected to take several months. Levine has reiterated that the timeline is unclear and dependent upon the federal government and the production schedule of the pharmaceutical companies making the vaccine, but she estimated the general public could have the vaccine by late spring or early summer.