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OpEd - What the Arrival of the COVID-19 Vaccine Means for Southwestern Montana

Created on Monday, 04 January 2021 Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 January 2021 Published Date
Jan 4, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Davenport

The arrival of the first supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to St. James Healthcare has

signaled a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic. It truly is a breath of fresh air and has

certainly given everyone here an extra boost of confidence in our ability to provide care to

southwestern Montana.

Ultimately, our goal will be to vaccinate as many of our healthcare workers as possible. Our

initial efforts, as directed by state and federal authorities, will primarily focus on vaccinating our

frontline staff to ensure St. James Healthcare can continue to serve and provide care to our

patients and community.

While vaccination is voluntary at this time, as healthcare providers, we have a greater role and

responsibility to ensure we are doing everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19. We

have strongly encouraged our associates to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved

ones and our community. This will be our same message to the public as the vaccine becomes

more readily available.

Vaccine safety and effectiveness is top of mind for all of us right now. As medical professionals,

we are confident in the science and technology behind these vaccines and believe they are a

turning point in our fight against COVID-19. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have

been rigorously tested prior to becoming available to the public. Both Pfizer and Moderna have

indicated that their COVID-19 vaccines are 94-95% effective based on Phase 3 clinical trials.

This means that the vaccines really work to prevent people from becoming ill with COVID-19.

That level of efficacy is encouraging.

As is often the case with vaccines, some people have experienced minor side effects after

receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, such as a mild fever or soreness at the injection site.

Fortunately, severe reactions, like anaphylaxis, are extremely rare. If you have any questions or

concerns please speak to your primary care provider.

Overall, we believe these vaccines are very safe and effective, especially when we consider the

serious risks, long-term health implications, and deadliness of the COVID-19 infection.

We are excited about the prospects this vaccine holds for our associates, our patients, and our

communities. As more vaccines become available in Montana, it is our recommendation that as

many people as possible get vaccinated so we can end this pandemic.

While we believe there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel, we must continue to be diligent

in our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Our ask of our associates,

patients and communities remains the same: Please do your part to help slow the spread of

COVID-19. Stay at home, wear a mask, limit your gatherings, wash your hands frequently,

practice social distancing and help us protect the vulnerable.

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