‘Historic’ day as HMC administers first COVID vaccinations

Habersham Medical Center received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 23. HMC's Radiology Manager Dee Dillin was the first to receive the vaccine followed by a host of other frontline healthcare heroes. (Kesha Clinkscale/HMC)

Habersham Medical Center today received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. The hospital received 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine and soon after began administering it to frontline staff.

HMC’s Radiology Manager Dee Dillon was the first to get vaccinated followed by a host of other hospital employees.

“It is a historical day in Habersham County,” says HMC Vice President of Culture and Wellness Kesha Clinkscale. “We are excited about the arrival of the Moderna vaccine. With COVID-19 infections continuing to skyrocket, we are grateful to have in our possession one tool that will help slow the spread of this dreaded virus.”

Habersham Medical Center is not requiring staff members to get vaccinated but strongly urges it. Among those who received the Moderna vaccine shortly after it arrived in Habersham are, left to right, HMC Lab Manager Sara Black; Internal Medicine & Geriatrics Physician Dr. Laura Heringer; ICU RN Jonathan Kirkland; TeamHealth Provider Josh Smith; Acute Care Services Manager Karen Phillips, RN; Infection Preventionist Joni Phillips. (HMC)

Clinkscale says the first shipment will cover the number of frontline employees who want to receive it. The hospital will begin vaccinating its nursing home residents next month.

Habersham Home’s vaccination clinic with Walgreens will start on January 20 for residents and employees.

A ‘dangerous disease’ we must take seriously

The vaccine’s arrival comes at a time when COVID infections are skyrocketing across Northeast Georgia.

“Our message to the community is simple and straightforward: COVID-19 is still a very real and dangerous disease. It is a constant threat that we all must take seriously,” Clinkscale says.

HMC Pharmacy Manager Julie McKee with the first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. (photo by HMC)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Moderna vaccine for emergency use last week. A vaccine is also being distributed by Pfizer-BioNTech but there is still a limited supply of both. As a result, vaccinations are being administered in phases. Those with the highest risk of contracting COVID-19, including health care workers and long-term care facility residents, are in the first phase to receive them. The CDC has approved vaccinations for people 75 years and older in the second phase.

As HMC works its way through the impending phases of the vaccine distribution process, hospital officials urge everyone to do their part to keep each other safe: Wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, and gather responsibly.

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