Hospitals Make Effort to Deliver Vaccines

ST. JOHSBURY - "Northern Counties and Vermont Regional Hospital work closely together. We have always realized that collaboration gets us more than competition." Laura Newell, of Northern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) says in an interview. Along with her colleague Christopher Towne, of Northern Counties Health Care.

Northern Vermont Regional Hospital is now working on their vaccination program. In collaboration with Northern Counties Health Care to deliver community vaccination clinics all around the Northeast Kingdom. NVRH and Northern Counties Health Care submitted a proposal that was accepted to vaccinate the community.

The overall goal of the Vaccine program is to Vaccinate Healthcare workers as well as essential workers that work in the community such as police, firefighters, and Caledonia Home Health workers. The program is finally starting to transition into the community, as Vermont's Governor wants Vaccination clinics within thirty minutes of each area of Vermont. Anyone seventy five and older is eligible to get the vaccine.

So far, Northern Counties Health Care has done two clinics. One in Concord, where they vaccinated around fifty community members. The second one was in Island Pond, where they vaccinated roughly one hundred fifty community members. In addition, there will be a clinic in Beecher Falls and beginning the week of February 15th, there will be a clinic in Orleans County.

Northern Vermont Regional Hospital has been running their vaccination clinic out of their conference rooms. About sixty eight percent of NVRH's staff has been vaccinated. "We've got a really great process right now, we staff the clinic with administration workers, as well as injectors and observers. The injectors inject the vaccine, and the observers watch the patients after 15 minutes of being injected," explained Laura Newell.

Sharon Mallett was the first employee at NVRH to get the vaccine. The hospital has been fitting in about twenty healthcare workers a day. "After I got my second shot I felt great. I felt powerful and invincible, and you know, bring on covid because I am not going to get sick," Mallett said with enthusiasm.

"So really we are limited by our dose allocation, so that is why we gave fifty vaccines last week, and we are doing an additional three hundred this week," Newell explains. The plan to give more vaccinations is reliant upon the number of vaccine doses received from the federal government. If and when the hospitals are allocated more doses, the plan will be to increase the number of vaccinations provided to the community. "So our goal is to vaccinate our entire community," Newell says.

"We have had a really positive response. Everyone is very grateful that we're going out into the communities and making it easy for people to access the vaccine," Chris Towne said in his interview. Both Newell and Towne agree that during the process of getting out vaccines, the hospitals had to move quickly. "So we learned a lot of lessons along the way," Newell said.

Towne and Newell want everyone to know that to get the vaccine they can go to the Vermont Department Of Health's website and register. If anyone is having problems understanding how to register, they can always call the toll free number and ask for assistance. The next step for Northern Counties Health care will be to open a clinic at the Green Mountain Mall, in St. Johnsbury.

Northern Vermont Regional Hospital hopes with more allocations for the vaccine coming, they will be able to transition to seven days a week of vaccinations. "Both organizations are very excited to be a part of this adventure, and helping to slow the rate of covid," Newell says with anticipation.