SEDRO-WOOLLEY — A conference room at PeaceHealth United General Medical Center served as a vaccine clinic Thursday morning, with such carefully chosen details as tape on the floor to encourage social distancing and Looney Tunes characters on the adhesive bandages.
But the real star of the show was escorted into the room right before showtime: doses of the recently approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
PeaceHealth United General Medical Center began vaccinating employees this week against COVID-19, going on the offensive against a pandemic that for most of the year has raged throughout the world.
Twenty-two doses were given Wednesday. It was hoped about 50 would be given Thursday.
“We’re extremely excited. It’s been a long journey over the last nine months,” said Chris Johnston, the hospital’s chief administrative officer. “This is one more tool in the toolbox to keep folks safe.”
The first employees able to get the vaccine are classified as “1A,” meaning they work with patients who have, or may have, COVID-19.
Johnston said that category includes health care workers such as doctors and nurses, but also laboratory technicians, front-desk staffers and members of the custodial staff.
“In a hospital setting, 80 to 90% (of the staff) could have exposure,” Johnston said.
To help protect those workers, as well as patients, PeaceHealth United General Medical Center acquired 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine from a PeaceHealth hospital in Longview.
The Moderna vaccine requires about four weeks before each recipient gets a second dose to reach maximum protection against COVID-19.
According to The Associated Press, the Moderna vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month, making it the second vaccine approved in the U.S. against COVID-19.
A shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Skagit County earlier this month and was given to workers in the Skagit Regional Health system.
There were multiple steps in the vaccination process Thursday for the PeaceHealth United General Medical Center employees. They got the vaccine, scheduled a follow-up appointment and were monitored for adverse reactions.
Chaplin Mary Bosell was the first to receive a dose Thursday. There was applause afterward.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the change we’ve been waiting for,” Bosell said. “This is the perfect way to the start the New Year — with hope.”