INDIANAPOLIS — Over the weekend hundreds of frontline workers received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Riley Hospital for Children clinic.
Infection Preventionist Jessica Huddleston was overseeing the clinic on Sunday. She says they vaccinate around 24 patients an hour. Right now, there are four stations in the clinic, but it can be expanded to eight depending on the amount of vaccine doses they receive from the state.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Huddleston worked in the COVID-19 ICU at IU Health Methodist Hospital. She says it’s very rewarding to be able to be part of the team ensuring vaccines are administered.
“So I’ve seen how horrible it is and I’m so proud and happy to be part of the team where we are part of the solution,” Huddleston said.
The clinic is one of seven IU Health vaccination clinics in central Indiana. Chief Medical Officer of Riley Children’s Health, Elaine Cox, volunteered at the clinic on Sunday morning. After administering shots to patients, she came back in the afternoon to receive her own.
“Many people came through and said it was just so simple and so easy, and that’s what we want right? If we want people to take the vaccine we need to make it as simple as we can,” Cox said.
After receiving the vaccine, patients schedule their appointment to receive the second dose before even leaving the room. Then, they are given a sticker with the time they received the vaccine and the time they are able to be released.
Those vaccinated are monitored for 15 minutes to ensure they don’t have any type of reaction.
“It’s important with vaccines that we always do that, but particularly with a new vaccine, we want to be super safe and super conservative and make sure that everyone who gets it that walks out of here is completely fine,” Cox said.
Patients are also offered the option to sign up for a program called Vsafe. Those who receive the vaccine can register for the program on their phone and track any kind of reactions they have.
“Which will be important for us as we try to make sure the public feels safe with this vaccine," Cox said. "They text you and you just put in any symptoms that you had any day and it goes on for about five weeks so we can see short term symptoms as well as long term symptoms. The more we use it and the more people can see that it is safe as we continue to vaccinate everybody over the coming months, they’ll feel better the more data we have."
Doctors who were receiving the vaccine on Sunday hope that they are helping people see that it is a safe option.
“Because I think it’s important number one to protect myself because I’m a frontline worker and I’m exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis and I also think it’s important for my family," said Angela Dietrich-Kusch, who is a pediatric hospitalist at Riley Hospital for Children. "I hope I can set a good example and show people that it's safe and that we all need to do this to get through this pandemic."
IU Health clinics are expecting to receive additional doses of the vaccine on Monday.