Liberty Regional Medical Center received their COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 23, 2020 and began administering it to staff members as well as the elderly who live at Coastal Manor Nursing Home in Ludowici. The first shots were administered Monday Dec. 28, 2020.
Christina McCain M.D., LRMC Chief of Medical Staff and General Surgeon, said the hospital received 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Dec 23.
“It’s a huge game-changer,” she said. The biggest thing is we want to get herd immunity so that we can protect our workers, our community, and our patients. We don’t want to pass any germs to anybody but there is always a small risk whenever you are taking care of patients. Everyone wants to get rid of the mask but for now that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But once more of the population is vaccinated hopefully we’ll be getting rid of the masks on a regular basis…and prevent loss of life from COVID-19.”
McCain said the vaccine is 95 percent effective.
McCain explained that the Moderna vaccines are a series of two shots given 28 days apart and the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days apart. She said people should expect the typical symptoms they might experience after getting a flu shot.
“A little bit of arm tenderness, swelling, occasionally maybe a mild fever,” McCain said.
She said folks who are prone to severe allergic reactions, should speak to their physicians. Although rare McCain said and a few people have experienced Bell’s Palsy, although no one in Liberty County.
“Our first priority is to vaccinate all of our healthcare providers and the residents of our Nursing Home in Ludowici – Coastal Manor Nursing Home,” McCain said.
McCain said anyone who works at the hospital or lives or works at the nursing home can request and receive the vaccine. Right now, it is optional.
After getting her shot on Dec. 28, Hospital Physician Vijia George called the vaccine, this generation’s big vaccine win, noting prior generations had breakthrough vaccines for polio and other illnesses.
“So, getting that shot gave me goosebumps and being excited about it,” she said.
George said she opted to get her shot because she has seen many patients that, at the moment, don’t have the ability of the vaccine as an option of treatment.
“They are too sick to begin with or they have multiple risk factors,” George said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be healthy. I don’t have any major medical problems...this is the best-case scenario, that I can take the shot so that hopefully people around me don’t get it (COVID).”
She said she experienced mild swelling at the injection site but otherwise felt good and encourages others who can get the vaccine to do so.
George said she cried the past three days because she is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a tumultuous year treating patients.
“What people that are healthy and walking around and doing their daily stuff, what they see is not what we see,” George said. “What we see is the worst end of it.”
George said the beginning of the vaccine process is the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
“It’s still a process,” she said. “We still have to have herd immunity. Which means the majority of us has to be able to not spread the disease.”
McCain said LRMC will follow national guidelines on when the vaccine will be available to the public.