Second dose of COVID-19 vaccinations begin at Kaweah Delta Medical Center

A Press Release from Kaweah Delta Hospital District

 On Friday, Jan. 8, Kaweah Delta Medical Center began giving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Kaweah Delta was scheduled to give 284 second doses on Friday. On Dec. 18, Kaweah Delta began giving COVID-19 vaccinations to staff members and physicians as directed by the Tulare County Public Health Department. After receiving the vaccine from the State, the County distributed it to Kaweah Delta. Studies have shown with the second dose of the vaccine, recipients can build an immunity of 95 percent.

“We want to get this vaccine to as many people as possible – our team members, and our community members, too,” said Keri Noeske, Kaweah Delta’s Chief Nursing Officer, noting that just over 50 percent of Kaweah Delta’s roughly 5,700 employees and physicians have received their first dose of the vaccine. “We are committed to working with the County as they and the State allow for the expansion of the vaccine to the other groups. We are waiting for direction from the State and waiting for the OK from the County to move on to those other groups. As soon as that’s approved, we will partner closely and make sure we get the vaccine out to everyone.”

Through Jan. 20, Kaweah Delta will continue offering the vaccine to those employees and physicians who are eligible to receive it under the County’s guidance. Kaweah Delta does not mandate that its employees receive the vaccine. Common side effects – headaches, fatigue, nausea, sore arms, etc. – have been reported at Kaweah Delta’s vaccination clinics. “These are not uncommon as your body works to build antibodies and develop immunity to this virus. Your body is actually doing what it’s supposed to do,” Noeske said. “It’s working overtime to build up this immunity to fight the virus.”

Currently, the County is in vaccination Phase 1A, which involves persons at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their work in any role in direct health care or long-term care settings. Once COVID-19 vaccine supply expands and those who qualify for Phase 1A have been vaccinated, the County will begin vaccinating residents that meet the requirements of distribution to Phase 1B and Phase 1C of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan. For information, visit https://covid19.tularecounty.ca.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

Dr. Wally Huynh, an internal medicine physician, who has cared for more than 150 COVID patients at Kaweah Delta, was the first to receive the first dose. On Friday, he was among the first to receive his second dose.

“It went well. I feel no pain and I have no symptoms so far. I’m hoping this is going to be successful and give me immunity to this virus. After the initial vaccine, I had no symptoms and was able to continue to go back to work and serve my community,” Dr. Huynh said. “What I’m hoping for is if everyone out there is able to get this vaccine, maybe by this fall we can resume our normal life that my kids can go back to school and everyone go back to their jobs and see their own families.”

On Friday, Kaweah Delta was caring for 154 COVID-19 patients at its Medical Center, with 20 COVID patients in its 41 ICU beds, where as of 7 a.m., one bed was available. On Dec. 22, Kaweah Delta reached an all-time high of 166 COVID-19 patient admissions.

Kaweah Delta shares COVID-19 information and regular updates, including parking and construction news, with the community on its website at www.kaweahdelta.org/COVID19 and on its social media accounts.

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