Prisma Health starts vaccinating staff as part of Phase 1A rollout

Updated: Dec. 15, 2020 at 11:49 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Prisma Health received 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday morning, according to a hospital spokeswoman, who says employee vaccinations began around noon.

UNDERWAY: Prisma Health officials discuss COVID-19 vaccine

Officials with Prisma Health are discussing the hospital system's efforts related to the vaccine. >>> Get the earliest breaking news alerts on your phone with the WIS 10 News app >>

Posted by WIS TV on Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Those doses were to be split between Prisma Health-Richland Hospital and Prisma Health-Upstate, which will serve as the primary vaccination locations for the healthcare system.

Dr. Eric Ossmann noted at a roundtable with Vice President Mike Pence last Thursday that Prisma has already identified the most at-risk employees who will be first in line to receive the vaccine.

But health officials say that, even with the vaccine rollout, we must stay diligent in maintaining the health practices already in place.

“This is not going to replace all the other things we are doing, said Dr. Helmut Albrecht, the Medical Director of Infectious Disease Research and Policy for Prisma Health and the University of South Carolina. “This will work in tandem with those. No one should stop washing their hands. You should mask even if you have the vaccine.”

Ossmann also told Pence the health care system would be ready to get the shot in people’s arms as soon as the vaccines arrived.

For many people, there’s still some apprehension about getting the vaccine, especially in minority populations who have greater mistrust of the medical establishment, stemming from a long history of medical maltreatment.

“First of all, I understand the concerns,” Albrecht said. “They’re longstanding concerns, so they will not go away just because we say they should go away. But I think information is the number 1, number 2, and number 3 way of combatting this.”

Dr. Saria Saccocio of Prisma Health echoed those sentiments, saying “It’s the information that’s provided, but also building trust.”

Saccocio said they plan to build that trust by “being extremely transparent with the data, and that starts with our very own team members.”

“The ‘ask’ is this,” she said,. “that all community leaders step forward. Stick out your arm and receive the vaccine. But not only that, they need to hear from you, the people they trust in our communities, that this is indeed safe.”

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