Health care workers celebrate vaccine marathon in Rutland

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 6:05 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 24, 2020 at 6:03 AM EST
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Health Department says so far, more than 4,300 people have been vaccinated in the state.

The Rutland Regional Medical Center on Wednesday held a mass COVID vaccination event. Hundreds of people got the shot ahead of the holiday. And many of the workers treated it as a sort of celebration.

It has been a long year for health care workers, but the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine helped make spirits bright.

The RRMC COVID-19 Vaccine Team hosted a marathon clinic all day on Wednesday. Employees, first responders and home health care providers got their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“The nurses here have excellent technique. It didn’t hurt at all and I feel amazing,” said Elizabeth Kyhill, who received the shot.

The clinic was scheduled to run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. with 520 people scheduled. They said they were averaging about 52 people per hour.

“Almost one person per minute, yes,” said Amy Martone, the director of nursing excellence at RRMC and one of the leaders of the clinic.

Martone said the day had gone as planned, but the hospital is not hosting 16-hour clinics moving forward.

“We kind of ended up in a complex situation where we were receiving vaccine but we also have the holidays coming up and it’s a holiday weekend. So we wanted to maximize how many people we could run through,” Martone explained.

A lot of planning goes into a big clinic like this. Staggered vaccinations are scheduled to ensure an entire department does not receive their shot at the same time. And the hospital doesn’t always know how much of the vaccine they will receive and when the shipment is coming, creating a big challenge.

“We created these clinics with a lot of assumptions and today it worked out great and we ended up having enough vaccines to vaccinate the people that were scheduled, so we’re proud of that,” Martone said.

Everyone waits 15 minutes after getting their shot to make sure they don’t have any serious allergic reactions. But the hospital trusts the vaccine and the science behind it.

“We had one employee who said, it’s like I’m getting history in my arm! And we have been telling people that because this is a great experience,” said Emily Feinberg, the director of employee wellness at RRMC and another leader of the clinic.

Feinberg encourages anyone questioning the vaccine to read about the development process and assures them the hospital has their back.

“There are hospital providers around. We are ready for anything to happen. We don’t expect it, but we are ready,” Feinberg said.

With decorations and a cutout of Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, they made it a celebration in honor of the health care workers who haven’t really taken the time to celebrate this year.

“We’ve got our flare on. We’re trying to boost spirit here and we’re just trying to make it fun,” Feinberg said. “It’s kind of like a great Christmas present or holiday present.”

Next Tuesday, RRMC will give out more shots.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine met with his advisory group on Wednesday to prepare recommendations for the next round of vaccinations. The health department says they will meet again next week, then submit their recommendations to the governor’s COVID-19 leadership team for consideration.

Click here for more information on the health department’s vaccine data.

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