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Valley Health receives COVID-19 vaccine, begins vaccinating frontline caregivers

17 December 2020 Covid19 Luray/Page County Shenandoah County Front Royal/Warren County Winchester Frederick County Clarke County News

Valley Health System received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday morning and has kicked off vaccination efforts for high risk healthcare workers.

“This was an incredibly exciting and momentous day for our caregivers and for our community,” said Valley Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Iyad Sabbagh, in a news release. “Since March, our healthcare workers have been challenged in ways we could not have even imagined a year ago. This vaccine has been the light at the end of the tunnel ever since.” 

Within a few hours of receipt at Winchester Medical Center, doses of the frozen vaccine were transported to the system’s hospitals in Front Royal, Woodstock and Luray, Virginia, and by late afternoon, frontline caregivers were being vaccinated. Valley Health’s two West Virginia hospitals will receive and begin vaccinating healthcare workers by Thursday.

Pulmonary and Critical Care physician B. Frank Lewis, MD, was the first to receive the vaccine in Winchester and is recognized as the developer of the “Frank Score,” an indexing tool used by Valley Health caregivers to determine a patient’s potential for progressing into serious illness due to COVID-19. The index score helped Valley Heath staff across its six hospitals care for patients most appropriately. 

“I’ve seen first-hand, the devastation that COVID-19 has brought to families and healthcare workers in our community. I am confident today in receiving this vaccine and will encourage everyone who is able to take it when it’s available,” said Lewis. “We have been preparing and training to receive this vaccine for several months. Today is a bright spot in the timeline of our battle with COVID-19 across our community. This is by far the best holiday present we could ask for.” 

The initial shipment to Valley Health contains nearly 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under Emergency Use Authorization on Friday. Research from the vaccine has shown a 90-95% reduction in the chances of getting COVID-19. 

“We’re thrilled with the safety and effectiveness data in the Pfizer study,” said Jeffrey Feit, MD, Valley Health vice president of population health. “But we must continue to make safe decisions as this pandemic is far from over. We encourage you to continue to wear your mask and watch your distance, especially as we celebrate the winter holidays. We are not out of the woods yet.”  

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