UM BWMC Health Care Workers Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

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The first University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (UM BWMC) frontline health care workers were vaccinated on December 16 with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Nursing director Kendra Ellison was the first UM BWMC staff member to receive the vaccine.

UM BWMC vaccinated 35 frontline staff, including employees from respiratory therapy, critical care, labor and delivery, and the emergency department. The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) received an initial shipment of 975 vaccine doses and has allocated doses across its 13-hospital system, with additional vaccine delivery expected later this week. The vaccine is being administered in a tiered system that prioritizes frontline team members involved in patient care.

“For many months, we have been looking forward to the day when vaccines would be available to protect our health care workers and very soon for the community at large,” said Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System. “As we begin vaccinations, and finally begin the process of ending this pandemic, I’m thankful to our UMMS and UM School of Medicine colleagues who have been working tirelessly to care for our community and lead in the development of innovative treatments and vaccines.”

Ellison, an Owings Mills resident who has been with UM BWMC since 2009, said getting the vaccination was an easy decision.

“I am honored to have been one of the first employees to receive the vaccine at UM BWMC,” said Ellison. “As a health care provider but also as a wife and mother, it is not only to protect my patients but also my husband and family. This vaccine will allow me to do this.”

Neel Vibhakar, chief medical officer and senior vice president at UM BWMC said, “We are happy to be able to offer the vaccine to our health care workers who are on the front lines treating our patients every day. Today is the day where we are beginning that process.”

Vaccines are being distributed according to the Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine – developed by the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) – as well as ACIP’s Ethical Principles for Allocating Initial Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine. These guidelines will ensure the vaccine is allocated ethically across populations of health care professionals, students, faculty and other essential workers, while still in limited supply.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health were the first in the U.S. to test the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, studying its safety, efficacy and dosing, and hosting clinical trials.

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