MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center was among the first hospitals in Southern California to receive the initial shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday, Jan. 7, hundreds of frontline staff at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, completing the two-dose injection series. The vaccine contains genetic material – messenger RNA – that directs the body to create a harmless piece of the COVID-19 virus called the “spike protein”. Our bodies then produce antibodies to the spike protein, providing protection if a person is exposed to COVID-19 in the future.
After completing the series, the Pfizer vaccine has been found to be 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 illness. Frontline staff members who are vaccinated can continue to provide outstanding bedside care to COVID-19 patients with less worry about potential COVID-19 exposure.
Brandon Gattling, RN, clinical nurse lead, COVID-19 unit, Long Beach Medical Center, was among the first frontline staff members in Long Beach to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18.
“Now that I received my second dose of the vaccine, I feel much more relieved and excited for what’s to come,” says Brandon. “This is a huge step in ending the COVID-19 pandemic, but we still need to continue to do our part and practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash hands frequently and avoid gatherings.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after being vaccinated. This means that it’s still possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has developed a prioritized set of guidelines based on phases and tiers for the rollout of vaccines to ensure that it’s distributed and administered fairly – at first it will be distributed to those with the highest risk of becoming infected and spreading COVID-19.
Brandon and the frontline staff at Long Beach Medical Center are part of the first phase (Phase 1A) vaccination group, which also includes long-term care and skilled nursing facility residents and staff members. To date, more than 5,000 employees and physicians at MemorialCare’s Long Beach Medical Center and Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach who fall into this category have been vaccinated. Long Beach Medical Center will continue to vaccinate staff based on its tier system and risk level.
“Vaccinating our staff members is vital to keeping them, their colleagues, our patients and community safe,” says Graham Tse, M.D., physician in charge, Hospital Incident Command Center. “The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most important tools we have to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As more people become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and are vaccinated, we have the opportunity to save more lives.”
Long Beach Medical Center encourages all eligible individuals to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them. The minor side effects that may be felt following vaccination outweigh the protection you will receive for yourself and loved ones.