John J. Pershing VA Medical Center prepares for COVID-19 vaccine arrival

John J. Pershing VA Medical Center prepares for COVID-19 vaccine arrival

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KFVS) - Healthcare workers at John J. Pershing VA Medical Center could receive their first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines as early as Tuesday, December 22.

“I think there’s gonna be a lot of relief once this Moderna vaccine is approved and we are ready to go,” said Bailey Wells, John J. Pershing VA Medical Center chief nurse for Specialty Services and Daily Operations.

If all goes as planned, Wells said frontline healthcare workers at John J. Pershing VA Medical Center could start getting vaccinated for COVID-19 on Wednesday, December 23.

“It’s very high priority for us that as soon as we get it, we are able to get it out. So, we are working right now actually to establish a list of individuals for healthcare personnel that we can get it to immediately, including Christmas Eve and right there around the holidays,” she said.

According to Wells, they expect to receive as many as 600 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Long-term care residents and those who work with COVID-19 patients will get vaccinated first.

Next, healthcare workers who perform direct care for more than 15 minutes can get the vaccine. All other healthcare personnel will follow. Then staff will schedule appointments for veterans.

Appointments for veterans will take about thirty minutes. Nurses and a pharmacist will be present during the vaccinations. Those who get vaccinated will be monitored for several minutes following the shot.

“Everyone has switched to it becoming something that might happen, it’s very much now something that is happening. So, it is a lot of anticipation. A little bit of anxiety, good anxiety,” she said.

To be prepared for next week, the team simulated a COVID-19 vaccine clinic on December 17th. Wells warned it will look different than their flu shot clinics. Veterans cannot walk in to get the shot. They will get a phone call to schedule an appointment.

“Veterans won’t need to reach out to us. They won’t need to come on site. We will be calling you,” said Wells.

If someone is hesitant about the coronavirus vaccine, Wells suggested reaching out to a primary care doctor to get any questions answered.

“We are very excited about this opportunity, especially to be one of the first in the area to be able to offer this vaccine,” she said.

According to Dr. Balamurugan Krishnan, MD and Associate Chief of Staff for Specialty Care, there have been no reports so far of serious symptoms or adverse side effects from VA nursing home patients who received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Wells said they will eventually transfer COVID-19 vaccines to their outpatient clinics for more veterans to get vaccinated.

Copyright 2020 KFVS. All rights reserved.