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Calhoun-Liberty Hospital Starts Vaccinating Staff Against COVID-19

Calhoun Liberty Hospital serves residents in Calhoun, Liberty, Gulf, and Jackson counties.
Calhoun-Liberty Hospital Facebook Page
Calhoun Liberty Hospital Facebook

Calhoun-Liberty Hospital is now vaccinating its staff against the coronavirus after it was among the last in the state to receive its first shipment last week.

Ten of the hospital's roughly 100 employees have received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine, said the hospital's Infection Control Manager Janna Martin.

“They all seem pretty positive and have not seen any side effects yet," she said. "We’re proud of that.”

Those staff members will receive their second dose in a few weeks.

Martin says vaccinations began last week and will continue until every hospital employee who wants one has received it.

“Each vial has ten doses in it, so you want to get as close to that number as you can before you pierce the vial," Martin said. The hospital usually provides employees with a sign-up sheet to receive a vaccine. For the coronavirus shot, she says they'll likely continue asking employees to put their names down if they'd like to get vaccinated. "Once we reach ten, we schedule a time where all ten of those employees can be vaccinated at the same time.”

The Centers for Disease Control's guidance on administering the Moderna vaccineshows unused doses lose effectiveness six hours after a vial's been punctured.

The rural hospital, which serves Calhoun, Liberty, Gulf and Jackson Counties, has roughly 120 doses of the vaccine in stock. She says they’ll begin administering doses to a handful of community health care workers on Tuesday before it making it available to residents over 65 years old.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet officially authorized the vaccine, but it has approved its emergency use. Martin says some hospital staff have declined to get the vaccine until more research has been conducted.

"From what I’ve seen, people are just concerned about how quickly it was rolled out and the safety of it," she said. "They feel like it hasn’t been researched long enough."

Martin says she's not sure when they'll receive their next shipment from the state, but she hopes its soon.

Until then, she says they'll offer the vaccine to community health care workers who haven't already received their first dose from the local health department.

"The actual local community health department have taken care most of those," she said.

The latest state vaccination update shows 52 residents in Calhoun and Liberty Counties had received a vaccine as of Jan. 3.

Martin says the hospital is finalizing a date to begin vaccinating seniors to help boost those numbers in the next couple of weeks.

"It will be after the health care workers have been vaccinated, so it should be pretty soon."

Valerie Crowder is a freelance journalist based in Tallahassee, Fl. She's the former ATC host/government reporter for WFSU News. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.