Two doctors at Los Alamitos Medical Center are spearheading the effort to immunize all of the center’s frontline healthcare workers against COVID-19.
As the first phase of Pfizer and Moderna doses are administered, Dr. Michael Secrist and Dr. Lily Mulroy deeply researched the vaccines and spread the word to colleagues that the process is safe and effective.
That included a social media campaign.
“Together with Dr. Mulroy, we had our own little public education campaign on social media to help everyone feel comfortable with the vaccine, which has amazing efficacy and safety compared to almost any other vaccine,” said Dr. Secrist. “We did it because we had to do something to end this madness.”
Initially, Orange County received about 25,000 doses of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine, which were distributed to the county’s 30-plus hospitals, as well as other healthcare facilities. A short time later, the Moderna vaccine arrived.
As with any new vaccines or medications, there have been questions and debates.
The FDA reports the vaccines are safe and effective and notes that temporary side effects could include fatigue and headaches. The CDC concluded that the vaccines are safe, as well.
“I was troubled by nurses and even doctors telling me they were going to decline the vaccine so I took my next day off and read the entire FDA briefing and the Pfizer vaccine data release so I could know everything there was to know,” Dr. Secrist said. “First, I had to make the decision that I was getting the vaccine myself. Then, I was able to answer authoritatively the questions everyone else had. I made written posts and videos and put them on four social media platforms to educate everyone I could. Word got around that I had done the research and people from all over the hospital… started calling me and hunting me down to ask questions about the vaccine and the virus.”
As of Monday, about 400,000 people in the United States had died of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. In Orange County, there had been 2,367 COVID deaths, according to the county Health Care Agency.
Frontline healthcare workers, first responders and citizens over 65 are being prioritized for the first round of vaccinations.
Vaccinations of the public are being done almost exclusively by appointment only, at present. The first “POD” for immunizing large numbers of people has been set up at Disneyland — a team effort by public and private sectors. Other PODS are in the works, county officials say. To set up an appointment, visit www.othena.com.
Many healthcare experts, as well as elected officials, are counting on the vaccines, plus public diligence with regard to safety precautions, to lower the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in the new year.
“Prevention is the best weapon and it’s finally in our hands,” Dr. Secrist said. “This is how we are going to win.”