WVU Medicine announces 6,000 employees receive Pfizer COVID vaccine

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine is in its fifth week of COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and things are only getting better each week.

Todd Karpinski, WVU Medicine’s chief pharmacy officer, said the process is going smoothly, and people are still getting their first of two doses. In fact, there are roughly a thousand staff members who have received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

All in all, we are looking at 6,000 hospital staff with the first dose in and about a thousand completing their second course. We have that second course for the remaining five thousand scheduled out over the next couple of weeks. And we continue to offer the vaccine to additional staff members as it becomes available from the state.

Todd Karpinski – Chief Pharmacy Officer, West Virginia University Health System

There’s still a lot of work to be done, Karpinski said because, in total, there are about 12,000 employees who work at Ruby Memorial Hospital campus and outlying clinics.

Karpinski said the goal would be to focusing more on staff who work primarily outside of the Ruby campus in the coming days and weeks. He said he feels encouraged because there are a lot of doses to offer these employees.

“We’re doing very, very well,” Karpinski said. “We’re seeing more than a 50 percent acceptance rate for staff to get the vaccine. We’re seeing very little if any, adverse reactions to the vaccine. Mostly arm soreness, which is very common with all the vaccines, so all in all, we’ve been very pleased with the rollout.”

Ruby Memorial nurse drawing Pfizer vaccine out of vial

This level of efficiency WVU Medicine has established for vaccinating employees will be vital when it’s time to vaccinate the public in a few weeks.

“We’re planning for our community-wide vaccination to begin hopefully by the end of this month, early next month, to start getting and helping support the community and partnering with WVU Medicine to get vaccine out to our public,” Karpinski said.

The biggest hurdle in the vaccination process initially was the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS), which was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to record and report information about every vaccine administered.

Starting off, VAMS had a lot of technical problems and glitches, but those have now been resolved. The chief pharmacy officer said the vaccination process now takes about five to six minutes, not including the waiting period after to monitor for adverse reactions.

First batch of COVID-19 vaccines WVU Medicine received

“As we move this out to the community, we want to do much larger numbers in a rapid number; I think we’re going to be well more equipped to do that than we were five weeks ago when you and I spoke,” Karpinski said. “We were — we weren’t really sure what we were doing. I think we have our process down very, very well now — as do others across the state.”

WVU Medicine employee receiving Pfizer vaccine

Karpinski said he feels very encouraged about the vaccine rollout to hospital employees, allowing him to remain optimistic about getting to the public. The biggest encouragement, obviously, is seeing the state healthy and protected. But for Karpinski, so too is the hard work and dedication shown by all parties involved in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the state.

“I’m just very proud to say that West Virginia continues to lead the country in the number of vaccines that we’ve been giving per capita and has been dispensed to our state,” Karpinski said. “I’m just encouraged as the vaccine rolls out to the general public. Please take the opportunity to get the vaccine to protect yourselves and to protect all West Virginians.”

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