BOISE, Idaho — Frontline staff at St. Luke's began receiving their COVID-19 vaccines Friday morning. The first to get the vaccine included ICU nurses, a Sudanese refugee who cleans COVID-19 patient rooms, a respiratory therapist, a Children's Hospital leader and emergency physician, an infectious diseases physician and a hospitalist and physician leader.
“We did not anticipate our team’s level of excitement, relief and enthusiasm for getting the vaccine. The response has been profound,” said Dr. Laura McGeorge, St. Luke’s System Service Line Medical Director for Primary and Specialty Care.
As of 8:51 Friday morning, 944 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in Idaho. The Pfizer vaccines gained emergency use authorization from FDA last week and St. Luke's said they received around 975 doses in their first shipment.
Employees signed up for the first round of available appointments and will receive their first of two COVID-19 vaccine doses. More than 250 St. Luke's employees were scheduled to receive the vaccine on day one with another 1,000 scheduled over the weekend, according to a news release.
"Tier one" staff and providers are eligible for the initial vaccine rollout. Tier one includes people who work in locations with a high risk of exposure, like emergency departments, Air St. Luke's, long-term care and skilled nursing facilities, critical care and COVID inpatients units, testing sites, urgent care and home care and hospice.
“This is the first huge ray of hope and optimism that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and the beginning of the end to an emotionally and physically exhausting marathon for our frontline health care heroes,” Dr. McGeorge said.
St. Luke's says they have not started vaccinating patients. The health system is taking a phased approach to vaccinations starting with health care personnel. The news release says they expect to complete vaccinations of its healthcare personnel within a few months.
After healthcare personnel, St. Luke's will address the next prioritized groups based on Idaho's vaccine program recommendations and the availability of the vaccine.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced that the allotment of the Pfizer vaccine the state was allotted for next week's shipment has been reduced from 17,550 doses to 9,750. Pfizer says the delay is not on their end; they have not received any shipping instructions for additional doses from the U.S. Government.
The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet on Friday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. The agenda includes a vaccine planning update, a vote on subgroups in the priority populations, a presentation on vaccine safety and effectiveness and presentations from local public health districts about their vaccine plans.
You can listen to the meeting by clicking here.