Sarah DeSilvey

Sarah DeSilvey receives a vaccine recently at Northwestern Medical Center.

ST. ALBANS — Northwestern Medical Center is edging closer to completing its share of the first phase of vaccinations.

As of this week, NMC has vaccinated over 1,700 hospital staff and community providers with either Pfizer-BioTech or Moderna vaccines, according to a notice from the hospital.

“Following the [Vermont Health Department] guidelines, we feel fortunate to be able to vaccinate our partners from EMS, home health, police and fire first responders as well as our other healthcare partners in the community,” said Chief Medical and Quality Officer Dr. John Minadeo. “We are all in this together...We are also proud of our staff who planned out and began operating a vaccine clinic in the midst of all the rest of the work that must continue to provide care for our community.”

The hospital reported few incidences of allergic reactions to the vaccines, with different effects between doses. Hospital officials said some experienced “mild and very tolerable” after the first dose, with “stronger side effects” after the second dose, for those who experienced symptoms at all.

“All were able to be cared for safely and efficiently,” the hospital stated.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said there is a 15-minute observation period following dosing in case of an adverse reaction.

Since the vaccine clinic was launched on Dec. 16, nearly 900 of the vaccinations went to various community healthcare workers, and the rest were administered to staff associated with NMC

Come early January, NMC officials reported that the hospital had launched the administration of second-round doses, and this week the facility began its first administration of the Moderna vaccine.

“We’ve been really pleased with the level of excitement that NMC’ers and community healthcare workers are showing when they get vaccinated,” said Jess Aboelezz, pharmacy manager at NMC. “People are happy to take this step to protect themselves and the community.”

As of Wednesday evening, the Vermont Health Department reported that over 29,000 doses of the vaccine had been given statewide, almost 24,000 vaccinations that had began and almost 3,000 that had been completed.

According to the state vaccine dashboard, 6.2% of Franklin County residents to receive a vaccine identified as women, while 1.8% of vaccinated individuals are men.

Due to supply and demand, NMC and others throughout the state have been adhering to strict guidelines from the Vermont Department of Health in order to vaccinate as many people as are willing to receive the vaccine, according to the hospital, and guidelines are subject to frequent change.

Phase 1A of the state’s vaccine rollout expanded doses to all healthcare workers who work directly with patients, which included facility staff, EMS staff, primary and dental care facilitators and home health care such as visiting nurse and hospice care workers.

For every dose released to states, the federal government holds a dose so that those who receive the first dose are ensured a second dose for full vaccination, according to Levine.

Planning for the next phase of vaccines is in the works, NMC said, and the hospital continues to adhere to guidance from the health department to prioritize older populations of Vermonters whose health or condition may put them at a higher risk of fatality as a result of contracting the virus. Levine and other state officials said during Tuesday’s press conference that the state will unveil more information about Phase 1B on Friday, which focuses on distributing vaccines based on age groups, starting with those age 75 and older.

All Vermonters are encouraged to remain vigilant for updates regarding vaccination, rates and health risks, and all members of the Phase 1A cohort of professionals to receive vaccinations who have not yet done so are urged to contact NMC or another medical facility regarding the planning of a vaccination appointment, the release said.

Vermont remains second in the USA for the number of vaccinations administered per 100,000 people, according to NMC.

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