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SEARHC Receives First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

Sitka – SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) confirmed today the receipt of Pfizer’s first COVID-19 vaccine shipment. With guidance from the Alaska Vaccine Allocation Advisory Committee, SEARHC has implemented a sequential system, based on risk, to administer the vaccine. The vaccine will be given first to frontline healthcare workers, first responders (Police, Fire Departments, and Emergency Medical Technicians), long-term care residents and staff, followed by other healthcare workers and the public.

The State of Alaska is leading the distribution of the vaccine to all healthcare providers throughout the state, and according to SEARHC Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl, “based on limited availability, the process of vaccinating everyone in our communities will take time.”

The clinical trial process for developing the COVID-19 vaccine involved tens of thousands of people participating. The vaccine’s development was accelerated using streamlined administrative processes and performing some steps simultaneously, rather than sequentially.

“At SEARHC, our top priority is the health and safety of our patients, communities, and staff,” said Dr. Bruhl. “Clinical trials have demonstrated that the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective and has been proven safe.”

Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are required to ensure effectiveness, with the second shot administered three weeks after the first. It is critically important to get the second shot. Side effects are minimal and may include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint aches. These typically last two days or less and signal that the recipient’s immune system is working to build protection against the disease.

“Getting vaccinated is an important first step toward ending the pandemic, and you have an important role to play by rolling up your sleeve,” said Bruhl. “However, to protect the safety of the community and your family, you must still socially distance and wear facial masks after you have been vaccinated. Until everyone in our communities has received both doses and immunity is widespread, consistently observing the safety protocols will help protect all members of the community.”

SEARHC will continue to implement the safety protocols currently in place in its facilities. These protocols include screening at every hospital and health facility entrance, masking requirements, visitation limitations, employee testing, and social distancing in waiting rooms. Vaccination will join handwashing, physically distancing, and wearing face masks as key preventive measures.