COVID-19 staff vaccinations begin at TidalHealth

Dr. Joseph Kim, a TidalHealth primary care physician, received the health system’s first COVID-19 vaccination at TidalHealth Nanticoke on Thursday. Administering the shot is Bonnie Passwaters, a nurse in TidalHealth’s Employee Health Division. (Submitted photo)

SEAFORD — TidalHealth this week began what is anticipated to be a monthlong process of vaccinating its health care team against COVID-19.

The first administration of the Pfizer vaccine occurred Thursday morning at TidalHealth Nanticoke in Seaford.

Dr. Joseph Kim, a TidalHealth primary care physician in Laurel, was the first in the health system to receive it.

Registered nurse Delajuan Coston was the first staff member vaccinated at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional in Salisbury, Maryland.

“The past nine months have been extremely challenging for everyone, but there is now great reason to be optimistic,” said Steve Leonard, president/CEO of TidalHealth. “Everyone wants to move past our pandemic restrictions and return to a normal life. The most important step to getting us there is this vaccine, and TidalHealth is honored to be leading the effort.”

The vaccine comes with a 90% effectiveness rate. In comparison, the flu vaccine is usually 40% to 60% effective.

The goal is to vaccinate every direct and indirect health care employee at TidalHealth who wants it, starting with the front line team.

“We know our front line team has worked tireless for many months. This vaccine delivery to our health care team is an encouraging first step towards moving forward and combating this virus,” said Dr. Kathryn Fiddler, vice president of population health at TidalHealth and the health system’s lead on vaccine distribution.

The COVID-19 staff vaccinations are voluntary but are highly encouraged for every member of the nearly 4,700-person TidalHealth health care team as vaccine becomes available.

All information indicates the vaccine is safe for those 16 and older, with no or very limited and manageable side effects.

Working with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, staff and residents of TidalHealth’s Alice B. Tawes Nursing & Rehabilitation and Chesapeake Cove Assisted Living, both in Crisfield, Maryland, are scheduled to be vaccinated within the next two to three weeks.

Due to a very limited initial supply of vaccine, TidalHealth is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for a phased rollout. A multidisciplinary team has been developing the plan for a number of weeks.

First to be vaccinated are TidalHealth front line health care employees who are at the greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional and TidalHealth Nanticoke. That will include providers, nurses and others, like respiratory and pulmonary staff, who have close and direct contact with COVID-19-positive patients in areas including the emergency department, the intensive care unit and COVID-19-critical and medical care units and floors.

Phase 2 will include staff who have responsibilities in and around COVID areas, including departments like registration, environmental services, food and nutrition, transporters and other inpatient and outpatient providers and clinical units.

Phases 3 and 4 will include staff at all off-site physician practices and health care locations and the remainder of all nonclinical employees not included in the early phases.

Once all staff members choosing to be vaccinated have been, TidalHealth will assist the health departments in the region to vaccinate the general community based on vaccine availability.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

Have a question, tip, or resources about the coronavirus pandemic? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.