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Published on December 22, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines arrive on Cape Cod

FH Vaccine First

COVID-19 vaccination doses arrived at Cape Cod Healthcare on Monday, December 14, and the next day, people working closest to COVID-positive patients were the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Per state guidelines, healthcare workers in highest risk areas are receiving the vaccine first.

“It provides a ray of hope to frontline caregivers who have been battling this treacherous disease for 10 months” said Cape Cod Healthcare President and CEO Michael Lauf during a media briefing. He called the day “exciting and sobering at the same time,” because of the devastation brought to so many lives by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a momentous occasion and hopefully the vaccine will allow us to get back to living normal lives,” he said.

Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital received a total of 2,925 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which Lauf said would be offered to all caregivers in the hospital setting who potentially come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. They expect to finish delivering all doses by Christmas, he said.

Both hospitals set up vaccination clinics to safely administer the vaccine, in accordance with state and federal guidelines. To avoid having people wait in line, which could spread germs, each employee had a designated time to get the first of two shots (given 21 days apart).

Sends an Instruction Manual

How can you expect to feel after getting the vaccine?

“I feel perfectly normal. To me it didn’t feel any different than getting a flu vaccine,” said Kevin Mulroy, DO, Chief Quality Officer at Cape Cod Healthcare, who received one of the shots on Monday. “I have a tiny bit of soreness at the injection site, but otherwise, nothing. I feel really good. It’s very safe, and the technology is fantastic.”

Many of us associate vaccines with being injected with live viruses, but the new mRNA technology, in development for years, does not involve injecting people with the COVID-19 virus. The new mRNA technology is as safe as it gets, according to Dr. Mulroy and others in the medical and scientific communities. Here’s why.

“There’s no COVID-19 in the vaccine,” he explained. “The vaccine just sends your cells something like an instruction manual that a virus uses, so we can show our cells how to fight the new coronavirus. Viruses attach to your cells and inject their mRNA, then replicate. 

“The vaccines are safe because they are just giving your cells a piece of the instruction manual. The only thing people can possibly react to are the chemicals inside the vaccine that hold it together. For instance, there’s potassium chloride and sodium chloride that occur naturally in the body.”

Vaccine dosing and guidance comes from the state, which will advise as to when vaccine for the general public will be available, Dr. Mulroy said.

“I think the state has a really good strategy. We are all continuing to do everything we can to protect the most high-risk people, such as those who are vulnerable at skilled and extended-care facilities.”

The vaccine is the key for us to get back to some kind of normalcy, according to Dr. Mulroy.

“I want to reassure people that the vaccine is the right way to go. With it, we have hope,” he said.

“While we will still have to be diligent about mask-wearing, handwashing, and social distancing, the COVID-19 vaccine is a big step forward to keeping everyone safe. We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I guarantee we will return to normal one day.”

Robin Lord contributed to this story.