VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - South Georgia Medical Center’s (SGMC) clinically led team is gearing up for flu season and the COVID-19 vaccine.
“When you work in a hospital, our adage as always, we prepare for the worst. We hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” said Brian Dawson, the chief medical officer.
Dawson said the hospital has taken the necessary steps to be ready for any health event to come, whether it is with PPE, beds or ventilators.
“So one thing we are doing is we are pushing a very heavily immunization campaign to make sure everyone gets a vaccine for influenza. Within our employees, we made it mandatory that all of our employees will be vaccinated for influenza in order to protect our patients and their families,” said Dawson.
When it comes to the new COVID-19 vaccine, Dawson said he doesn’t know when the hospital will receive its supply.
However, SGMC is already making plans with local departments of public health, emergency management and other agencies in the area to make sure that the hospital is capable of setting up a distribution center to administer the vaccine.
Dawson said there are different drug companies making vaccines. The difference is the pieces of the virus used. He said as of this morning, the one with the most reliable data is Pfizer with 90 percent effectiveness.
“But boy, I tell you, if you got something that gives you 70 percent protection or 80 percent protection, in this case, 90 percent protection, I mean why wouldn’t you do it? I mean it just doesn’t even make sense as to why you wouldn’t do it,” said Dawson.
For those scared of getting the new vaccine, Dawson said the benefits outweigh the risks. He said it will be a two-part vaccine. The first injection and then another one three weeks later in order to have that 90 percent effectiveness.
Dawson said Pfizer plans to start distribution at the end of November and expects to send out about 50 million vaccines worldwide by the end of 2020. He said they will be supplied by the state or federal government. However, until it’s ready, Dawson urges everyone to continue to protect themself.
“We’ve come too far and we’ve done too well now. We need to make sure we maintain pressure, make sure we maintain our disciplines, make sure we wear a mask, maintain our distance, wash our hands, get an influenza vaccination and I would strongly encourage that whenever we have access to the COVID vaccination, that they should get the COVID-19 vaccination as well,” said Dawson.
Dawson said they have staff that makes calls every day for updates on vaccines. He said the hospital has to see which vaccine is available, what works and then educate the public.
South Georgia Medical Center currently has 26 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.