Nina Browning who works in accounting at Elmore Community Hospital was the first person to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at the hospital on Thursday.

“A lot of employees went to Lake Martin Community Hospital to get the vaccine, but I really wanted to get it here,” said Browning, who has worked at the hospital since 1990. “I just feel more comfortable here with my work family.”

Lake Martin Community Hospital began vaccinating healthcare workers and first responders in December.

Browning said she was a “little excited” as she sat in a chair waiting to receive the shot from nurse Renee Easterling.

“I’m so glad I got it,” Browning said. “Now it can go ahead and get in my system and start working. I never had any doubts about the vaccine. I figure scientists know a lot more than I do. I also take the flu shot every year.”

After receiving the vaccine, patients have to undergo a 15-minute observation period to watch for any adverse reactions to the vaccine, Easterling said. Browning is set to receive her second dose of the vaccine in 28 days.

Elmore Community Hospital pharmacist Allison Johnston said there’s a four-day grace period if a person does not receive the second dose in 28 days.

Ivy Creek marketing director Heidi Smith said the hospital received its shipment of Moderna COVID vaccines on Monday. It took a couple of days to convert the hospital’s surgery waiting room into the COVID vaccine clinic according to state guidelines.

Elmore Community Hospital will be administering vaccines in phases, Smith said. Right now, vaccines are only being given to Ivy Creek Healthcare employees. First responders and law enforcement will be next, followed by those 75 years and older and then teachers.

The pace at which the hospital moves from one phase to the next will depend on its vaccine inventory.

“We’ve heard that once you get the first shipment, it starts to come regularly,” Smith said. “Hopefully that will be the case here.”

Johnston said the hospital received 500 doses of the vaccine, which are frozen when they arrive and must be kept frozen at -13 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes about two and a half hours for the vaccines to thaw in a refrigerator, at which point they are good for 30 days in the fridge.  

One vial contains 10 doses of the vaccine. Johnston said once a vial has been opened, it’s good for six hours at room temperature. An unopened vial is good for 12 hours at room temperature.

“We’re closely monitoring inventory and keeping track of dates and times to ensure the proper storage of the vaccines,” Johnston said. “We’re also encouraging all Ivy Creek employees to go ahead and register to get the vaccine to protect themselves and the community.”

Smith said the community can follow along with the hospital’s vaccination phases by going to IvyCreekHealth.com and clicking on the COVID Vaccine Clinics link at the top of the page.