First COVID-19 vaccines given to Beebe workers

Five frontline healthcare staff are recipients of initial shots in Sussex County
December 16, 2020

The first person in Sussex County received the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 16 at Beebe Healthcare. Sintia Rodriguez, a nurse who works in Beebe's emergency department and behavioral health unit, received the vaccination from Dr. Bill Chasanov at the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus. “I’m grateful to get this. It represents something good to do for the community. If it prevents people from getting sick, why not get the vaccine?” she asked.

Beebe received its first shipment of 630 doses from the Delaware Division of Public Health just hours before Rodriquez received the first dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

Five front-line team members received the vaccine, including Rodriguez, Amy Williams; a charge nurse caring for COVID-19 patients; George Parker, manager of environmental services; Dr. Ercilia Arias, a pulmonologist in Beebe’s ICU; and Dawn Adili-Khams, a respiratory care practitioner.

The vaccine is administered in two doses with a follow-up shot in three weeks. “This vaccine is amazing,” said Chasanov, leader of Beebe’s COVID-19 response. “We started talking about the virus a year ago, and 12 months later we have a vaccine. It’s a game changer.”

Chasanov said Beebe has ultra cold storage capable of storing vaccine vials at temperatures up to minus-100 degrees. He said Beebe should get another shipment of vaccine next week.

Parker of Millsboro said he knows some people are afraid and concerned about getting the vaccine. “I’m getting the vaccine today because I want to show people it will be OK. Hopefully, everyone joins me. I have no problem with it.”

Adili-Khams of Lewes said she didn’t think twice about getting the vaccine. Adili-Khams, who had a mild case of COVID-19 in July, said she’s seen how bad the virus can be. “It’s scary how quickly someone can deteriorate,” she said.

Chasanov administered the first shots with assistance from nurse Kim Blanch. Chasanov said even with the vaccine, it’s important to stay vigilant.

“It will be critical for us all to continue to wear a mask, wash our hands, and watch our distance with those outside of our household,” Chasanov said. “This vaccine shows promising signs of efficacy and limited and minor side effects, but there is still much to learn about whether the virus can be spread from a vaccinated individual. Still, today was a great day for Beebe, Sussex County and the state of Delaware.” 

“This historic moment exceeded all expectations,” said Beebe Healthcare President and CEO David Tam. “We have planned and prepared for this, but to witness Beebe’s front-line healthcare workers receive an extra layer of defense against this deadly virus that we all have been battling since March, was truly something special. We know this vaccine is a valuable tool in returning to our pre-pandemic normal. In the coming weeks as more vaccine supplies arrive, Beebe will continue to care for the community. Beebe remains open and safe for all who are in need of care.”

Beebe has developed a tiered approach to provide the vaccine to team members based on federal recommendations, which focuses on high-risk groups who come into direct contact with patients. This tiered system was created under the guidance of COVID-19 vaccine playbooks created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Delaware. As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available for the public, Beebe is finalizing operational plans to reach out to the community.


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