The MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has vaccinated over 4,000 physicians, staff and patients in the Washington, D.C. community against COVID-19, according to a MedStar Georgetown spokesperson.
The first batch of vaccines arrived at MedStar Georgetown on Dec. 15, nine months after the first recorded case of COVID-19 in the District. MedStar Georgetown began vaccinating frontline workers the following day, in accordance with a directive issued by the D.C. government.
Workers in health care settings who are unable to telework and are directly or indirectly exposed to infectious materials were the first group in D.C. to get the vaccine.
Andrea Valdez was the first person at MedStar Georgetown to receive the vaccine Dec. 16. As a labor and delivery nurse, getting the vaccine was crucial to protect herself and others, as physical distancing is not possible in a hospital setting, according to Valdez.
“I had Covid earlier in the year and understood the real fear of potentially passing it on to others while still asymptomatic,” Valdez wrote in an email to The Hoya. “If there is a safe and effective way to minimize this risk of infection, I’m all for it, so once the vaccine was available, I immediately signed up after well educating myself on it.”
She hopes her decision to get the vaccine will help convince others of the vaccine’s efficacy and safety, Valdez said.
“It was very humbling to be able to receive something so important and needed! I felt so lucky to be able to have access to this and set an example for anyone watching, especially my friends and family,” Valdez wrote. “I would encourage anyone who is hesitant to receive the vaccine for health reasons to make an individual evaluation with their healthcare provider.”
MedStar Georgetown is distributing a two-shot vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, which requires three weeks between the first and second shot. Pfizer was one of two vaccines granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Moderna vaccine. Both vaccines are about 95% effective.
Students from the Georgetown University School of Medicine have volunteered at MedStar Health to help administer the vaccines, allowing for successful and efficient distribution, according to a spokesperson from the School of Medicine.
“Almost 160 third and fourth year students at the Georgetown University School of Medicine are volunteering with MedStar Health to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the DC community,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “These students, already in the clinical portion of their education, complete a training series and a competency test prior to administering vaccines.”
The D.C. government announced Jan. 11 that it is moving into Phase 1b of the vaccine distribution, offering inoculations to residents aged 65 and older. MedStar Georgetown is prepared to continue meeting the vaccine demand even with the expanded regulations, according to the MedStar Georgetown spokesperson.
“MGUH is following CDC guidelines for vaccine distribution,” the spokesperson wrote. “As we receive vaccines, we will continue to open vaccine appointments for the community who meet the criteria outlined by the D.C. Department of Health.”