Published on in CHOP News
On Friday, Dec. 18, more than 560 physicians, nurses, security officers and other frontline CHOP employees came to Stokes Auditorium, on the hospital’s Philadelphia Campus, to receive their first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The Dec. 18 vaccine clinic was the first step in the hospital’s plan to offer COVID-19 vaccines to all CHOP employees. With additional shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines expected to arrive at CHOP in the coming weeks, the hospital aims to provide the first dose to all employees who wish to be vaccinated, in a phased approach.
COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory for CHOP employees, but many have chosen to get vaccinated to provide another layer of defense against infection, and to start down the path of herd immunity, which is what will be necessary to get the pandemic under control.
“As employees of CHOP, my mom and I both got vaccinated to be an example to our family and to show our dedication to our patients and our community,” says Brianna Weeks, MSN, RN, ACCNS-P, CPN, who cares for hematology and nephrology patients. “We consider it a privilege to be able to contribute to the fight to end this pandemic.”
An unprecedented effort
After months of planning, CHOP moved quickly to vaccinate staff when the first doses of the vaccine were delivered to the hospital. As of Jan. 5, more than 4,600 employees had received their first dose, and the hospital expects to offer the first dose to all frontline staff by mid-January. The hospital is also hosting regular Town Hall meetings with CHOP experts, including Paul Offit, MD, Director of CHOP’s Vaccine Education Center, to keep employees informed about the vaccines and answer their questions.
The successful rollout of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at CHOP is a bright spot during a very challenging time.
“Instead of playing defense against this virus, as we have over the last 10 months, we now have a chance to play offense against it,” says Ron Keren, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.
Adds Madeline Bell, President and CEO: “I am proud that CHOP has been able to offer the vaccines to our employees so quickly, and I am looking forward to getting vaccinated as soon as I’m eligible. Finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Please note that no COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in children, and we are not able to offer the vaccines to our patients at this time. All of the vaccine doses we receive are designated specifically for our staff (with 10% going to non-affiliated healthcare providers) per direct guidance from the CDC and state public health officials. If you have questions about your child’s care, please speak with your pediatrician. CHOP will continue to provide updated care information and guidance to patients as pediatric recommendations become available.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the Vaccine Education Center’s COVID-19 Vaccine webpage or consult your state's vaccine website.
We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges for families. The successful development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, and the Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, has finally offered some light at the end of the tunnel. We know that you have questions about how the vaccines are being distributed, and we have provided some answers for you below.
What is CHOP’s plan to distribute the vaccine?
As part of the CDC’s and state health departments’ plans to prioritize vaccination of healthcare personnel, CHOP began vaccinating its employees on Dec. 18. At this time, all of the vaccine doses we receive are designated for CHOP employees (with 10% going to non-affiliated healthcare providers) per direct guidance from the CDC and state public health officials.
We are following the national vaccine distribution plan, which is occurring in a phased approach, starting with healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. As the national distribution plan continues to evolve to include other groups, such as frontline essential workers and the general public, we will continue to update the CHOP community.
Have the COVID-19 vaccines been approved for use in children?
Currently, no COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in children under the age of 16, and children are not currently included in the first phases of vaccination as outlined by the CDC. As a result, we are not able to offer COVID-19 vaccines to our patients at this time.
My child is 16 and has a chronic illness. Will they be able to get the Pfizer vaccine at CHOP?
This is an excellent question. At this time, we are not offering COVID-19 vaccines to our patients, including those who are 16 and older. We remain in close contact with local and state health departments on the vaccine distribution plan, and will continue to provide updated care information and guidance to patients as new information becomes available. If you have specific questions about your child’s care, please speak with your pediatrician.
What can I do to help protect my child until the COVID-19 vaccine is available to them?
It is important for everyone – including those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine – to continue to follow CDC guidelines for infection prevention. It will take time before we are able to “return to normal,” and our public health measures, including masking, physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene, continue to be essential to reduce spread of the virus and keep everyone safe.