RENO, NV—Within seven days of receiving the vaccine that protects against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) announced Jan. 4 it has vaccinated more than 245 of its 500 employees.
The organization anticipates it will have provided the first of a two-dose Moderna vaccine to all employees who want one by January 6, 2021.
“It’s been said so many times over the last two weeks, but we certainly feel the same way here—this vaccine is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Markus Dorsey-Hirt, chief nursing officer and chief flight nurse, REMSA/Care Flight. “While there are still challenging days ahead as our global and local communities recover, the vaccine offers hope and a sense of relief.”
REMSA is not requiring its employees to get vaccinated; however, they are strongly encouraged to do so. Through a variety of communication and education channels, employees had the opportunity to learn about the vaccine. In addition to employee newsletters and event bulletins featuring links to videos, infographics and websites about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, a series of virtual employee forums included a presentation by a Pfizer vaccine clinical trial participant, one of the organization’s medical directors, an employee who recovered from COVID-19, and information about how the vaccine would be distributed within the organization.
Since there is the possibility of a vaccine recipient experiencing a reaction or low-grade side effects due to the immune system’s natural vaccine response, REMSA is providing all employees with an additional day of personal time off for each dose of the vaccine. This time was provided in addition to additional personal time off that was extended to any employee needing to be away from work due to COVID-19-related illness.
In conjunction with the Washoe County Health District—the region’s public health authority—REMSA invited all local media to cover the first round of employee vaccines. The event was featured on CBS, ABC and NBC news affiliates.
“It’s vitally important that our community members see trusted healthcare professionals choosing to get vaccinated,” said Dorsey-Hirt. “Throughout the pandemic, there has been so much attention paid to personal protective equipment—things like gloves, masks and gowns. Eliminating or reducing the threat of the virus by 94 percent or more by getting the vaccine is the ultimate control in personal protective equipment.”