ROANOKE, Va – Thousands of healthcare providers at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital have received the COVID-19 vaccine. But a rise in new cases is causing the hospital to covert more beds for patients and find staff to treat them.
Since getting its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine three weeks ago, nearly 6,000 of Carilion’s 13,000 employees have gotten the first dose.
“I’ve been very pleased with our pacing so far,” senior director of pharmacy Chad Alvarez said.
More than 1,500 employees are on track to get their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine this week. So far, staff have seen little to no side effects.
“The side effects are those that are typical after many different vaccines including fever, some pain at the injection site. Sometimes some fatigue lymph nodes swelling muscle pains and joint pain,” chair of the department of medicine Paul Skolnik said.
But more vaccines have also caused some hurdles for Carilion, including finding ultra-cold storage for the Pfizer vaccine.
“There’s also pressures nationally to conserve doses and not waste and so when you couple that with storage requirements and then trying to abide by the guidelines of privatization, it does make for some challenges,” Alvarez said.
While the vaccine distribution has been steady among staff, the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at the hospital continues to rise.
“We continue to increase and convert hospital beds for COVID patients as needed, our nurses, and our medical staff are working very very hard,” Senior Vice President Mike Abbott said.
And as the hospital faces a potential surge after the holidays, the pressure is on to safely and quickly vaccinate as many employees as possible.