Christus Receives, Prepares to Deliver First COVID-19 Vaccines

The Centers for Disease Control delivered the Pfizer vaccine this morning

Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer David Gonzales discusses receiving the first COVID-19 vaccines today. (Julia Goldberg)

Christus St. Vincent knew the first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine was arriving this week. Yesterday, they learned it was arriving at 10:30 am today. The truck rolled in at 9 am.

Hospital leaders say they were ready. And this afternoon, Christus will become the first hospital in the state to vaccinate its frontline workers, and one of 145 hospitals in the country.

"It's exciting because it shows the trust the state and the CDC has in us to be able to execute this promptly," Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Gonzales said this morning. "This is a major step forward and an important step," he said. "It's our first step in eradicating COVID-19." Full success, he added, "is going to depend how many people in the public take it. We hope many people accept [it] and get vaccinated."

Christus received 975 doses today, and will receive another 975 of the follow-up dose in a few weeks, Gonzales said. Those receiving the vaccine will be monitoring and reporting their symptoms on an app provided by the CDC. Those doses will allow the hospital to vaccine all of the COVID-19 workers caring for patients with the disease, Gonzales said.

Christus President and CEO Lillian Montoya talks with the hospital’s pharmacy director Christine Atwell about receiving the first vaccine for COVID-19 this morning. (Julia Goldberg)

The hospital also expects to receive the Moderna vaccine in a few weeks, which does not require the ultra-cold storage of the Pfizer vaccine.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook inside the hospital," Christus President and CEO Lillian Montoya said of the news that vaccines would start today in Santa Fe. "It's an important turning point for us as an organization. We have a team that's been caring for this community and the entire state, frankly. And for us to receive the vaccine is really a signal that we're going to get to a place where people can get vaccinated and be healthy and safe and taken care of."

Matt Nerzig, deputy director of communications and media strategy for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, told SFR that Christus and the Department of Health warehouse receive vaccine shipments today, and trucks with deliveries to small, largely rural hospitals will be leaving the DOH warehouse very early tomorrow morning. Other hospitals will also be receiving shipments tomorrow and the following day.

Christus Pharmacy Director Dr. Christine Atwell, said her team was ready and excited. "We've read all the clinical trials…We feel confidant around the vaccine. It has an amazing efficacy rate of 95%, so we feel this will definitely be a game changer," she said.

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