On Tuesday, Dec. 15, five health care workers from the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center made history after receiving the much-anticipated Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Kaiser Permanente is the first health care organization in California to receive and administer the Pfizer vaccines, which arrived at the West Los Angeles Medical Center on Dec. 14. The organization is following guidelines designating frontline health care workers as being the first to receive the vaccine.
“From my point of view, I’ve seen those who are most ill and it’s very scary. That image is what I go home with and I ask myself what I can do to be part of a solution. Getting this vaccine is being part of a solution,” states Orlando Lara, RN, an emergency room charge nurse who was one of the five to receive the initial doses at the medical center.
The other recipients at the West Los Angeles Medical Center include Dr. Alejandro Sanchez, MD, chief of infectious diseases; Abigail Evangelista, BSN, CIC, director of infection prevention and control; Sarah Poetter, RN, MSN, clinical director of nursing; and Eduardo Medrano, environmental services attendant.
The vaccines will be distributed to all Kaiser Permanente hospitals throughout Southern California, which the organization views as a major step in the battle against the virus that has affected more than 16 million people – including over 1.5 million in California.
“This will be an opportunity to participate in the first steps towards defeating the COVID-19 virus,” said Poetter. “I trust the data that is published, and I would encourage all to receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them.”
As the vaccine becomes more available, Kaiser Permanente plans to work closely in partnership with public health officials to further prioritize vaccinations and anticipates offering the vaccine to those who meet the criteria in each phase of the process.
“We will still need to wear masks, social distance, and wash our hands at the beginning of the vaccine roll out, as we increase vaccination coverage of the population and as the pandemic rates decrease,” said Sanchez.
The organization continues to emphasize that remaining cautious and staying home for the holidays — not traveling and not gathering — is the best way to protect yourself, your families and our communities.