Dr. Jeff Balser, President and CEO:
Hi everyone. Thanks for joining the second video in our series about the new COVID-19 vaccines.
Our goal is to provide you with timely and clear information, including how the vaccines will actually make us immune and what, if any, side effects we should anticipate when we are vaccinated.
The Pfizer vaccine has received an emergency use authorization by the FDA. We will begin vaccinating immediately, prioritizing those who directly interact with Vanderbilt patients. We believe the Moderna vaccine will receive similar FDA approvals and will be available to us before the end of December.
So today, we're gonna talk more about vaccine safety and questions like, who should be getting vaccinated? We will also provide information on how you can obtain the vaccine. Once again, Dr. William Schaffner, our very own trusted and world renowned infectious disease expert is here with the details, Bill?
Hello everyone. In Vaccine 101, we discussed vaccines and provided information from our VUMC experts to show that vaccines are safe and effective. Our goal continues to be to keep you and those around you safe from the Coronavirus.
Today we want to provide additional information we have learned since our last time. Think of this as Vaccine 201. We now have a vaccine-specific page on the VUMC coronavirus website that includes common questions with answers, and you should refer to it to answer questions you may have.
Today, I bring the news that we'll immediately start vaccinating the VUMC workforce. This is exciting news, and comes with continued questions we need to answer.
The first is, what is an mRNA vaccine and is it safe?
mRNA is cutting-edge technology that's been extensively worked on by our scientists, including our experts right here at VUMC. mRNA stands for messenger RNA. You can think of it as an instruction manual teaching the body how to build proteins. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA teaches your immune system to make specific antibodies that prevent the spikes on the outside of the COVID virus from attaching to your cells. If the virus can't attach to cells, it can't make you sick.
The mRNA does not interact or change your DNA, thus it's very safe.
The vaccine is designed to stop the virus from making you sick, but what we don't know yet is if the vaccine will stop you from spreading the virus. We hope that it does, but until we know more, we must continue to wear our masks and social distance.
The second question is, who should be getting vaccinated?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very safe and effective, and have been studied on a diverse and wide population before being approved to be given to us. I'll be getting the vaccine and I expect and encourage all of you as leaders of the healthcare community to get the vaccine when offered. It will be your choice.
Given our limited supply of vaccine, we're following the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health guidelines for prioritizing when employees may get vaccinated. Where you work, patient care or non-patient care will determine when you're eligible to get the vaccine, but we don't anticipate a long wait before everyone at VUMC can be vaccinated.
Now, I know you all want the vaccine, so how do you get it?
There will be an announcement of the enrollment process in MyVUMC. You must enroll in the vaccination plan to get the vaccine and work with your manager to schedule a time to get both doses.
We need your help to manage vaccine supply as well as work schedules due to the expected side effects from getting the vaccine.
Again, you'll be scheduled to receive both doses of the vaccine, but it's not a walk-up like our flu vaccinations.
So to recap, first, complete your COVID-19 vaccine enrollment form. Second, when it's your turn to get vaccinated, work with your manager who will schedule your time to be vaccinated, and then third, of course, show up at your scheduled times to get both doses of the vaccine.
Remember, you do need both doses to build your immunity to the virus. You'll likely experience some mild to moderate side effects after the vaccination, such as a sore arm, maybe some fever, muscle aches, headache, or fatigue. These side effects are all actually good signs, because they show that your body is building immunity. Dr. Balser?
Thanks, Dr. Schaffner.
For many months, you've been caring for patients, training healthcare professionals, performing groundbreaking research, and maintaining the vast array of systems of support we need to do it all so well, and you've been doing it all in the most challenging conditions we've ever experienced, a global pandemic.
There is now hope and the end is in sight. That hope is in the form of two vaccines that are both safe and highly effective.
As we get more information, we'll be posting additional videos like this one and other helpful information on MyVUMC. The process will take time, and we appreciate your patience as we work to vaccinate everyone while keeping you safe.
In the meantime, please continue to wear your mask, stay socially distant, and take care of each other. We'll get through this together.
We'll talk again.