After Los Angeles County experienced its darkest day in coronavirus figures Wednesday, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital officials administered their first batch of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Thursday to the hospital’s frontline workers.
Kathy Brady, a senior clinical registered nurse in the hospital’s intensive care unit, was the first to be inoculated. She has been caring for coronavirus patients since the onset of the pandemic and is one of many medical professionals who have adjusted their daily lives by “taking so many showers before and after work” and thinking about their loved ones at home. For Brady, it’s her husband, a cancer survivor.
“I’m happy that I was able to get vaccinated; I feel a bit of relief,” she said. “I don’t feel discomfort or anything. I don’t feel any dizziness or anything like that.”
Brady is set to receive her second and final dose in 21 days, as the Pfizer vaccine requires two separate shots, according to Courtney Mattley, a clinical coordinator of pharmacy who administered the shot and who shared with Brady enthusiasm over what having the vaccine in hand meant for them.
“I feel like this is probably the start of the last chapter of this story,” said Mattley. “I’m really hopeful and thankful to be a part of it and really think things are going to start to turn around for our community, our country.”
Henry Mayo received a shipment of 1,400 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines and planned to administer 327 on Thursday on its health care staff, according to hospital spokesman Patrick Moody. Los Angeles County Public Health communicated with hospital officials that more shipments are expected in the coming weeks, added Mattley.
Each vial was expected to contain five doses but the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that some contain extra doses and hospitals and clinics are encouraged to use them.
“At this time, given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of the issue,” the FDA stated in a tweet.
Henry Mayo’s doses come as an estimated 83,000 are expected to arrive in Los Angeles County by the end of the week, with frontline workers at several locations already receiving vaccines, including at Kaiser Permanente in East Hollywood and Antelope Valley Hospital. Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week California’s first batch of Pfizer vaccines would amount to about 327,000 and the state could receive nearly 394,00 more, as well as more than 600,000 from the yet-to-be-authorized Moderna vaccine.
Health care workers and long-term care facility residents are first in line to receive inoculations, followed by essential workers, according to the state’s plan. California’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee discussed Wednesday that about 12 million residents fall under “essential workers.” The group recommended prioritizing teachers and child care workers, farmworkers and first responders.
L.A. County is still months away from having enough vaccine for it to be widely available, according to L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis.
“Until then, we need to make choices in our daily lives to protect ourselves and protect others,” he added.
Meanwhile, Southern California’s ICU capacity dropped to 0% Thursday ahead of an update on COVID-19 numbers from L.A. County Public Health officials. Zero capacity does not mean there are no more beds available, rather reflects when an area has a higher-than-expected ratio of COVID-19 patients occupying ICU spaces.