Natividad ICU Medical Director Gets First COVID-19 Vaccine

  • February 5, 2021

Natividad joined hundreds of hospitals across the country Friday in the fight against the pandemic when it administered its first COVID-19 shot to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Medical Director Dr. Tony Medawar.

“Hopefully, frontline workers like us will help others decide to get the COVID-19 vaccine when the vaccine becomes available to them,” Medawar said.

Medawar has served as a key member of Natividad’s COVID-19 response team since the pandemic began. He cares for moderate and critically ill COVID-19 patients in the ICU and other areas of the hospital. Emergency Department Supervising Nurse Jeffrey Hernandez administered the shot.

Natividad received 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, and the hospital is working to vaccinate its staff quickly. Natividad is following public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health, prioritizing health care workers based on COVID-19 exposure risk. Its first recipients of the vaccine include all hospital staff members that work physically in high-risk clinical care areas, including environmental services, nurses, physicians, patient transport and interpretation.

“This is by far the best public health good news we’ve had in the last 10 months,” he said. “The vaccine is the first step for us to get back to normal.”

In its study of 43,000 participants, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective, and only one severe case of COVID-19 was reported in the vaccinated group. A small percentage of people reported side effects, such as headache, muscle pain and fatigue. No serious safety issues were reported during the study, though a few people have reported allergic reactions since vaccinations began across the world earlier this week. The vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart.

“The vaccine greatly decreases my chances of getting sick and bringing home the disease to my family, my co-workers or giving it to someone out in the community,” Medawar said. “Every shot has side effects, but compared to what we see in front of us on a day-to-day basis with COVID-19 patients in our ICU, there is minimal risk in taking the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Chief Quality Officer Dr. Chad Harris also expressed confidence in  the vaccine and its effectiveness. Natividad anticipates receiving additional vaccines from Moderna in the coming weeks. Moderna received approval for use in the U.S. by health regulators on Friday. The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, 28 days apart.

“Vaccinating our frontline health care workers is just the first step of the vaccine campaign. Millions of more doses will ship across the country to our communities and will become available for our family members and neighbors over the coming months,” he said.

As of this morning, Natividad had 56 COVID-19 positive patients at the hospital. Since the pandemic began, the hospital has cared for 426 people with the disease. In Monterey County, 22,225 people have tested positive for the virus, 951 have been hospitalized, and 170 have died. Across the nation, more than 300,000 people have died of the virus.

“While we wait for our turn to get vaccinated, it’s important that we all continue following precautions. Wear masks, maintain social distancing, wash your hands,” Harris said. “Also, please support each other during this difficult time. Do what you can to be there for your community, your neighbors and family.”