Umass Memorial Medical Center

‘It's an Enormous Help': Vaccinations for Hospital Staff Making an Impact

All employees in Massachusetts hospitals are now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Massachusetts is now allowing everyone in Phase 1 to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. For hospitals, that means they can now give shots to everyone on staff.

At UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Dr. Andrew Karson, the chief medical officer, believes the vaccine is resulting in a reduction of cases among employees.

Dr. Karson said the rates of new COVID-19 cases among employees is down from 20 per day to about five.

"It’s an enormous help to have everybody be vaccinated,” Dr. Karson said.

“We’ve seen our employee numbers go down significantly since we had the vaccine start, so we really are feeling we are starting to turn the corner a little bit early in certain populations, at least with health care workers,” he said. “Every vaccine we give, 95 percent effectiveness, we should see that [new case rate] coming down over time. It is really encouraging.”

At the five campuses UMass operates, Dr. Karson said 12,000 out of 15,000 employees have received at least one dose. Three thousand have gotten the second dose.

Hospitals in Massachusetts are preparing for distribution once Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is delivered.

“Vaccinating all of our employees allows us to support the frontline staff with human resources and other groups that are behind the scenes,” he said.

Hospital employees, not just those dealing with COVID patients, can now get their shots in Phase 1.

Next week the hospital will begin vaccinating high-risk patients. “We ultimately will have enough for patients, especially the high-risk patients,” said Dr. Karson. “The real question for all of us is timeline. As the state is getting it, they’ve been wonderful about getting it into the hands of hospitals. The concern is, can we get enough fast enough, to vaccinate patients quickly enough and the hope is yes.”

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