The Fallon Medical Complex has already put more than 300 COVID-19 vaccines in the arms of Fallon County and Carter County residents in the battle against the global pandemic.
The Moderna vaccine is being used, which requires a second dose 28 days after the first, explained Sue Lunde, the director of Nursing at FMC.
“We are doing it on our own and that includes the (Phase) 1A which was all the long-term care residents, healthcare workers, EMS workers and caretakers. We were the only ones giving the vaccines at that time. The 1A has had both of those vaccines.
“We’ve moved into (Phase) 1B as well,” explained Lunde. “About half – 150 – were 1A and includes their two vaccines.”
The staff at FMC is currently working on the second (Phase 1A) vaccine as well, she said, noting that some residents of Carter County were also coming to Baker to be vaccinated. “Some of their doctors are our doctors too.”
People can sign up to be on the list for vaccinations. “We are having people call and we are putting their names on a list.”
According to Lunde, each vial of vaccines has ten doses. “Once we open that vial and start taking the vaccine out. We will have only six hours to use it up or we have to waste it. So what we are doing is having people call in and put their names on the list and as soon as we have enough names on the list so we won’t have to waste any vaccine we call and set up a day for them to come in.” Normally, the people are scheduled to come in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The people wanting to have their name put on the list for vaccinations can call either Judy McWilliams (406-778-5447) or Sue Lunde (406-778-5385), she said.
Once people receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. They are scheduled to receive the second dose 28 days later.
The FMC puts in a request to the state for the Moderna vaccine on a weekly basis, Lunde explained. “They send out 100 doses at a time. So far, we have gotten everything that we have requested (from the state). We have been getting about 100 vaccines every week or two. We have used those all up,” she said. However, Lunde said they were expecting another delivery from the state.
“We’ll set up for more clinics at the end of the week or for next week. Once we get caught up with the ones with the chronic conditions and the ones that doctors are referring to us or the ones calling in and getting on the list … we haven’t had to advertise.
“We have lists that are long enough that we can hopefully keep getting vaccines out to the public,” she said.
Overall, the director of nursing said that she has seen a large response to the vaccines by the public. “It has been more than I expected at this point in time. It has been very positive and more and more people are coming in.”
In addition to giving out the vaccine, Lunde said they also spend some time with the people on the lists. “I do education with everybody before they get their first vaccine. I get their consent. I tell them what it (the vaccine) is, how it was made and what to expect,” she explained.
The vaccinations are done in a large meeting room. “We can do them in groups at a time,” she said.
There are no charges for the vaccines, Lunde said.
Once the people get the first vaccinations, they will be given a card to carry showing proof. “We put on their what vaccine they got... the number and when they need to come back. (When done) both of those dates and vaccines will be on that card. That card they will have to keep. Pretty soon you are going to need that card in order to travel … to get on an airplane and to prove they have had the COVID vaccine.
“Right now, it is not mandated, but in the near future you are going to have to prove it in order to travel across state lines...”
The current list of people waiting for the vaccine is more than enough to account for all the doses in the next shipment from the state, she said.
“We will give everybody on the list and we will give them a couple of dates to choose from to come in,” she said, once the shipment arrives.
“Right now we are so lucky here in Fallon County. We have had zero cases for more than three weeks. If can get this vaccine out as fast as we can, we’ll be sitting pretty good as far as getting immunity for this virus.
“The response has been so positive. It has been awesome,” she added.
No influenza yet
One interesting byproduct of the battle against COVID-19 has been its impact on influenza in the region, according to Lunde.
“So far, we have not had a positive test for influenza yet. We are testing for the influenza when we test for COVID and we have had no positive test yet,” she said.
She credited the use of masks locally for the drop in influenza.
“We definitely still need to do social distancing and masks. They say that two weeks after the first (COVID) vaccine you will have about a 50 percent immunity. Two weeks after the second vaccine you’ll have up to about a 95 percent immunity to the COVID virus.”
In addition, the people need to get vaccinations in order to get ahead of the spread of the new mutations which have already been found in several states, she said.
“The vaccines are still working against that (mutated) virus as well. We just need to get it out to the people to get their immunity built up before it reaches our area,” Lunde explained. “We have none in our area at all.”
The new virus variations are reportedly more virulent, spread faster and show symptoms faster, she added.