Health First Rolls Out COVID-19 Vaccine in Phases to Best Protect Brevard
By Health First // December 29, 2020
Health First is quickly immunizing as many people as possible in an effort to ensure supplies continue to come in for our entire community
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Marcia Gray considers it an honor to play a part in safeguarding Brevard against COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Health First’s System Director of Outpatient and Wellness Services was one of many clinical associates administering vaccines at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne – one of the most important roles she’s had during her 35 years of nursing.
“It is so rewarding to be part of something that has a direct impact on keeping our associates and our community healthy and will allow us to move back to some sense of normalcy,” said Marcia.
“I absolutely love being a nurse. Being able to be part of our evolving healthcare system and care for people during the time they need it most is incredible.”
Health First is dedicated to protecting all of Brevard. And with that comes a phased approach to getting the COVID-19 vaccine to as many people as possible – and ensuring all who care for you stay well so they can continue to do just that.
As soon as talk of a COVID-19 vaccine began, Health First leaders put a plan in place to swiftly administer immunizations in the most effective way possible – an important first step to overcoming this public health crisis.
Health First understands many groups and individuals are anxious to receive the vaccine, and we are prepared when that time comes.
Health First received its first shipment of the vaccine on December 21. Within hours, frontline workers were receiving their first of two immunizations, which was under the directive of the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Because we needed to exhaust our vaccine supplies to remain eligible to receive the next shipment, we offered the vaccine to other associates who work in our facilities.
Protecting them is a critical step toward ensuring we have the staffing capacity to care for Brevard. The more associates who are inoculated against COVID-19, the better for the community.
As supplies remained, we were faced with a challenge over Christmas and the ensuing weekend – utilize the remaining supplies as quickly as possible during a holiday in a way that would ensure we would get follow-up shipments. Doing so was important to ensure we acquired enough of a supply to move on to the next phase – inoculating community members ages 65 and up.
Had we not exhausted our supplies, we would not get the next shipment of vaccines – which will provide us with a larger supply to offer to the community.
Given this info, after offering vaccinations to all Health First associates, we needed to move fast. We thought about how we could maximize vaccinations and eliminate waste. So, we offered the opportunity to be immunized to Coastal Health Systems (an ambulance provider), Brevard Health Alliance (medical providers for underserved and indigent Brevard residents) and our volunteers.
Only after we realized we would still have additional doses did we offer vaccinations to the spouses of associates who had already received the vaccine.
Current quarantine guidelines state that if the spouse of a vaccinated associate tests COVID-19 positive, the vaccinated associate still must quarantine. This would limit our staffing ability, and by protecting both the associate and their spouse, we are able to continue our staffing plans to run our hospitals and protect Brevard.
We must take all steps possible to protect our frontline associates from COVID-19, so they will able be continue to protect our community.
As we receive additional vaccinations, we will begin to implement our plan to vaccinate more members of the community. Our distribution plan includes independent healthcare offices, as well as all individuals over the age of 65. When allotment allows, this will likely include additional community outreach, as well as centralized geographical locations.
Thank you for your continued understanding and patience as we all work together to combat this public health crisis.
We know the community is anxious to get vaccinated, and we are excited to be able to help them along this wellness journey. The latest information on vaccine availability can be found at hf.org/staywell, as well as by calling our COVID-19 hotline at 321.434.3636.