Published on December 14, 2020

OH planning for vaccine arrival

By Christie Netherton, Messenger-Inquirer

Doses expected to be on-site the week of Dec. 21

Owensboro Health is expecting to be included in the second shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations, Dr. Michael Kelley, vice president of medical affairs for Owensboro Health, said Friday.

The shipment of vaccine doses is expected to arrive the week of Dec. 21, he said.

Kelley said he is unsure of how many doses of the vaccine Owensboro Health will get, but regardless of how many are received, the hospital has a plan in place to distribute them.

“I would say that the first people that are going to get these are some of the long-term cares and the workers and staff,” he said. “When you look at how this disease impacts the population, it really does tend to have much worse outcomes in sort of our elderly and higher-risk individuals, and that is the long-term cares often.”

Kelley said there are three tiers for how vaccines will be distributed. Tier one, he said, includes long-term care patients and staff, and health care employees with direct patient contact, such as critical care doctors and nurses and front desk employees. The second tier, he said, will be essential health care workers that are not front-facing, or dealing with direct care, such as operations employees. The third tier would be those employees who have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis within the last 90 days.

“My hope would be that we receive at least 1,000 doses, and we could do pretty good work at getting the highest risk folks vaccinated if we got that many doses and getting into even some of those next tiers as well,” he said.

If the hospital receives fewer doses than desired, which Kelley said is more likely, there is a plan in place to make sure those at the top of the list are vaccinated based on where they work and what patients they take care of, he said.

Although the vaccine will require a booster, Kelley said the initial shipment of vaccines, however many it may be, will not need to be split in half. He said the hospital will receive a second round of doses for booster vaccines.

While the vaccine is new and was produced quickly, Kelley said he hopes it will not deter the public from getting it. He said there has been data released about small sub-percentages of individuals having severe allergic reactions, but that is normal and that many experiencing that typically have a history of allergic reactions.

Kelley said taking the vaccine will be a step toward protecting oneself and others and transitioning back to a normal way of life.

“This is part of the normal process and I don’t want people that may be on the fence about vaccinations … I don’t want this to become something that is really going to drive them completely against it,” he said. “I think that this has been done quickly, but safely.”

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.