Three weeks after Excela Health employees received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, they will get a second and final shot starting today, Jan. 8, according to spokesperson Robin Jennings.
“Our staff is very enthusiastic,” about receiving the second dose, Jennings said, one that makes the Pfizer vaccine about 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Jennings said 3,054 employees across the health system have received the first dose, so far, with an emphasis placed on vaccinating frontline workers.
More employees are set to be inoculated for the first time in the coming weeks.
Each of Excela Health’s three hospitals — Westmoreland in Greensburg, Frick in Mount Pleasant and Latrobe — have received 975 doses, the same number each hospital received ahead of the first round of vaccinations that started Dec. 18.
There were no issues receiving either round of vaccine shipments, Jennings said.
About 450 doses remain to be administered from the first batch, as Jennings previously said “some of the vials contain 5 to 7 doses,” which the FDA said can be used.
While vaccination is not mandatory for Excela Health employees, the health system conducted an internal survey which showed approximately 70% of the staff indicated they were interested in being immunized.
Jennings in December said Excela Health ordered an additional 11,000 doses to be administered to some of its patients and employees who have yet to receive the first dose, but she is unsure of when they will receive them or how many they will receive.
There have been no reports of any significant side effects from the first round of doses, so far, according to Jennings.
Excela has also worked with Mutual Aid to administer vaccines to medics and EMTs.
More than 177,700 vaccines have been administered across Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard as of early Friday morning. In Westmoreland County, 5,467 people have gotten their first shot of the vaccine. Over 500 residents of Pennsylvania have been fully vaccinated, per the COVID-19 dashboard.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to Pennsylvanians in a three-phased approach.
Excela Health will administer the second dosages two days after Westmoreland County set a new single-day high for COVID-19 deaths with 16 reported on Wednesday, according to data on the county website.
Westmoreland County also eclipsed the 21,000-case mark, with 279 added cases Thursday. There have been 21,003 total coronavirus cases in the county since March — 15,558 confirmed cases and 5,445 probable cases, according to data on the county site. There have been 75,061 negative tests in the county.
Six coronavirus deaths were reported Thursday, bringing the Westmoreland County’s total to 465 since the start of the pandemic.