'It's imperative for me to have that vaccine' - Health care workers react to CDC vaccine vote

The panel voted 13-1 to recommend priority be given to those groups in the first days of any coming vaccination program, when doses are expected to be very limited. The two groups encompass about 24 million Americans out of a U.S. population of about 330 million.

Associated Press and

News 12 Staff

Dec 2, 2020, 11:04 PM

Updated 1,270 days ago

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A CDC panel voted that health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line for a coronavirus vaccine.
The panel voted 13-1 to recommend priority be given to those groups in the first days of any coming vaccination program, when doses are expected to be very limited. The two groups encompass about 24 million Americans out of a U.S. population of about 330 million.
Later this month, the Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. Current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of 2020. And each product requires two doses.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet again at some point to decide who should be next in line. Among the possibilities: teachers, police, firefighters and workers in other essential fields such as food production and transportation; the elderly; and people with underlying medical conditions.
Experts say the vaccine will probably not become widely available in the U.S. until the spring.
Reaction from some front-line workers on Long Island has been mixed, with some happy to have some good news on the horizon, while others say they're worried.
"Regardless of where you're working in a hospital, you're still at high risk of being exposed to COVID," says Alexis Cresencia, a nurse at Nassau University Medical Center. "It's a ticking time bomb because we don't know which people are asymptomatic, despite all of the PPE and the protective equipment we have. As nurses we're on the front lines. It's imperative for me to have that vaccine."
But critical care nurse Amy Pacholk is on the fence -- saying she's worried about possible side effects and the speed at which the vaccine was developed.
"I'm just concerned that they pushed through a vaccine and I'm concerned about the consequences," she says.
For those with loved ones in long-term care facilities, a choice is also on the horizon. Dolores Zanchelli's 76-year-old mother Gina is on a ventilator at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack with congestive heart failure.
"I don't think that she's too eager to get it because the flu shot also gave her side effects, and she was sick for a couple of weeks with it," says Zanchelli. "So I don't know if giving it to her is going to hurt her or not."
Gurwin CEO Stu Almer says there are still too many unknowns to come up with a solid plan for vaccinating residents or staff at this point.
"We don't know when we will receive the vaccine, although we think it will be soon since the announcement was made," says Almer. "We needed to select a vendor to provide us with the vaccine and that selection has been made. But we don't know which vaccine we will receive and we also don't know if it's going to be mandatory or voluntary."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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