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Published on December 17, 2020

Asante receives its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine

Nearly 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine earmarked for health care workers

Asante reached a milestone in its battle against COVID-19 when it received its first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine will be administered to Asante employees at the highest risk of exposure — typically those working with patients who may have contracted the virus.

Due to limited supplies as vaccine production ramps us, health care workers and long-term care facilities are among the first groups to receive FDA-authorized vaccines as recommended by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority.

Asante is among the first five health systems in the state to receive the Pfizer vaccine, in part because Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center has ultracold freezers to store the agent, which requires temperatures of -77 degrees Celsius. A second vaccine, manufactured by Moderna, will likely go to long-term care facilities or other rural institutions that lack ultracold storage.

The initial shipment covers less than 15% of Asante’s workforce, so clinical leaders are prioritizing which job functions will receive the vaccine.

“Asante’s goal is a fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine,” said Holly Nickerson, vice president of Asante Quality Department. “We’ll ensure the top priorities for vaccination are staff and providers working in direct patient locations. Further prioritization will be announced as vaccine supply is better understood.”

Employees will receive two doses roughly three weeks apart to gain immunity from COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of nearly 1,300 Oregonians and strained hospital capacity throughout the state.

Employees working in COVID-19 testing sites, hospital “hot zones” where patients with the virus are treated, emergency departments, critical care units, respiratory urgent care and other high-risk locations will receive the vaccine first. Those working in other departments will follow.

“As the region’s largest health care provider, we owe it to our patients and our community to deliver safe and effective care,” said Jamie Grebosky, MD, Asante’s chief medical and quality officer. “Immunizing our staff is an important first step to help stem this pandemic.”

Clinical studies found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be between 94.5 and 95% effective.

Reviewed by Lauren Van Sickle on December 17, 2020

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As the largest health care provider in nine counties, Asante provides comprehensive medical care to more than 600,000 people throughout southern Oregon and northern California. Our facilities include Asante Ashland Community Hospital in Ashland, Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass, Asante Physician Partners and additional health care partnerships throughout the region.