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Beebe administers first COVID-19 vaccines in Sussex County

A Beebe Healthcare nurse became the first person in Sussex County to receive a COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 16.

Sintia Rodriguez works in Beebe's emergency department and behavioral health care unit. Beebe's COVID-19 Medical Response Director, Dr. Bill Chasanov, administered the vaccine to her at about 3:30 p.m. Dec. 16 as eager, excited and socially distanced hospital leaders looked on.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity," the 35-year-old Rodriguez said. 

Beebe's Margaret H. Rollins Campus in Lewes received a shipment of 630 vaccines from the Delaware Division of Public Health just hours before.

Five Beebe employees were vaccinated Dec. 16, including Amy Williams, a charge nurse caring for COVID-19 patients, George Parker, manager of Environmental Services, Dr. Ercilia Arias, a pulmonologist in the intensive care unit, and Dawn Adili-Khams, a respiratory care practitioner.

The vaccine requires two doses, 28 days apart. According to Chasanov, the 630 doses Beebe received Dec. 16 mean they are guaranteed another 630 in three weeks. He also said there are tentative plans for Beebe to receive the same amount of or more vaccines next week.

After the second dose, the Pfizer vaccine is about 95% effective, but that doesn't mean the recipient should stop taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus. 

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"What we do know about the vaccine is the vaccine decreases someone's chance of becoming severely ill. But until the vaccine is out for some time, we are not sure if it completely eliminates the possibility of someone who may be infected with the virus from spreading the virus," Chasanov said.

That question should be answered in the coming months as clinical trials continue.

"Ideally, if enough people gain immunity to COVID-19, then this is really when the pandemic really starts to take a shift and becomes less virulent," Chasanov said. "We're hoping that it gets us back to 'normal.'"