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Pocono, Schuylkill campuses get vaccine

Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono began administering the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday to all the hospital’s high-risk front-line health care and essential workers, who come in contact with COVID-19 patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization couldn’t have come at a better time for all the health care and essential workers at the hospital.

Everyone was glad the vaccine was arriving so quickly to the hospital, according to LVH-Pocono communications manager Jessica Blasco.

“When the weather report predicted a foot or more of snow, then everything was up-in-the-air as to whether we would be able get the vaccine for Friday. We did and it all turned out fine,” she said.

Friday morning LVH-Pocono nurses, doctors and other essential workers waited in line to receive the first of two shots that would protect them from being infected with COVID-19.

The second shot is given 21 days after the first shot.

The mood was upbeat and even though it meant getting a needle in their arm everyone seemed eager to get the shot.

Greg Munch, the hospital’s public safety manager said, “I never even felt the needle go in.”

Troy Serfass, who is the director of public safety at the hospital said, “ I worry about my mother. Hopefully the vaccine will be available to the older population that is at risk.”

Setting an example

Once the health care employees received their shots, LVH-Pocono President Elizabeth Wise and Chief Medical Officer William Cors, MD lined up for their vaccine shot.

“It is a quick process. You sit down, answer a few questions, roll up your sleeve and get the shot,” Cors said.

Cors and Wise both said people should encourage everyone they know to wear a mask and to get the vaccine because that is the only way we can stop the spread.

“The holiday season is a time of giving. Quite frankly I can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to protect and help your family and loved ones by wearing a mask and getting the vaccine,” Cors said.

“I know I sometimes get weary of wearing a mask, but right now that is the only way to keep yourself and others safe. I tell people you have the power to save lives if you wear a mask and get vaccinated. How many people ever get a chance to save someone’s life by doing two simple things,” Wise said.

Schuylkill vaccines

Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill received its doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday and vaccinated employees Friday.

Jaime Feick, a Lehigh Valley Health Network flight nurse stationed often at LVH-Schuylkill, was the first employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at 10:15 a.m. at the East Norwegian Street Campus.

Karen Reber, a registered nurse in the emergency department, was the second at 10:17 a.m.

Both told of their experiences of those with COVID-19. They expressed thanks for getting the shot. Each received a sticker that said “I GOT MY SHOT.”

William “Bill” Reppy, president of LVH-Schuylkill, congratulated those involved.

“We hope this is the beginning of the end. Today, we begin vaccinating our colleagues (employees). We look forward to a time when the vaccine is widely available to the general public, which will take some time,” he said.

Reppy encouraged the public to get vaccinated. To help reduce the spread of the virus, residents are reminded to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash hands frequently, stay home when sick and contact a primary care doctor for questions about the virus or testing.

Mike Peckman, director of public affairs and marketing for LVH-Schuylkill, said the hospital received 80 doses of the vaccine, but some have an extra dose.

“We are expecting to do now 90 by the end of the day, he said.

Peckman said the majority of the employees who received the vaccine work in the emergency department.

An additional shipment of vaccine is possible by Monday. Approximately 1,000 employees work at both the South Jackson Street and East Norwegian Street campuses.

“Our hope is that everyone will get vaccinated,” he said of employees.

Amy Marchiano contributed to this report.

Greg Munch, LVH-Pocono's manager of public safety, signs his name on the “I Did My Part” board on Friday after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. See tnonline.com for a video about the vaccine. AMY LEAP/TIMES NEWS.