Greenwich Hospital launches COVID-19 vaccine campaign; Camillo: The end is in sight

Greenwich Hospital pharmacy officials welcomed the first batch of over 2,900 dosages of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday evening heralding a new era in efforts to end the pandemic.

The hospital anticipates receiving another 7,000 dosages on Sunday evening.

Staff receive vaccine dosages during press conference at Greenwich Hospital. Dec 16, 2020.
Greenwich Hospital pharmacist Jasmine Sahni, PharmD, administers the vaccine to Piyal Alam, MD, a family medicine physician with Northeast Medical Group, which is part of Yale New Haven Health. Photo: Greenwich Hospital

On Wednesday, Greenwich Hospital began administering the first doses to frontline healthcare workers during a press conference via Zoom.

The Pfizer vaccine is given in two doses, with recipients to get the second shot 21 days after the first one.

“We’re very excited. I you know this is the light at the end of the tunnel for our community and for our nation and for the world. So it’s very exciting that we have this opportunity to get started tomorrow at Greenwich Hospital,” said Teresa Papstein, director of Pharmacy for Greenwich and Bridgeport hospitals.

The coronavirus virus that has decimated communities across Connecticut and around the country.

“Today, we have a new weapon in our war against COVID, a vaccination that is incredibly safe and carries a 95 percent rate of efficacy. Armed with this vaccine, we have a new opportunity to beat back and crush COVID over the weeks and months ahead,” said Diane Kelly, Greenwich Hospital president.

Diane Kelly, Greenwich Hospital’s President and CEO. via Zoom

Five staff members – two physicians, two nurses and a member of the Environmental Services team – received the vaccine created by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech.

The Pfizer vaccine will be given in two doses, with recipients to get the second shot 21 days after the first one. Additional doses will arrive almost daily from Yale New Haven Health.

Karen Santucci, MD, Greenwich Hospital’s chief medical officer, introduces the five employees who were among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during a virtual press conference. Photo: Greenwich Hospital

“We are proud to have played at least a small part in the advancement of the Pfizer vaccine, with Yale New Haven Hospital as one of the clinical trial sites,” said Karen Santucci, MD, chief medical officer, Greenwich Hospital.

Anna Cerra, Greenwich Hospital’s chief nursing officer, said the nation was at a “crossroads in dealing with the disease” with the arrival of the vaccine.

“It is safe. It is effective,” she said. “I am here to say that there is nothing more important today than to get vaccinated.”

Among those being vaccinated today were Piyal Alam, MD, a family medicine physician with Northeast Medical Group.

Also vaccinated on Wednesday were Mark Anthony Abille (RN, Post Acute Care Unit), Kathleen Collins (RN, Intermediate Care Unit), Samantha D’Annunzio, MD, (Intensive Care Unit), and Deyanira Ferreras,(Environmental Services).

Yale New Haven Health has launched a Crush COVID campaign to encourage vaccination.

The hospital already requires employees to get the flu vaccine.

“We know how to roll out a vaccine,” she said. “This is a shorter time frame. We usually give ourselves four months, but we are going to beat that number.”

Diane Kelly urged people contemplating the vaccination to follow the science and use reliable sources to inform their decision.

“The success of this is going to be the numbers of people who take the vaccine,” she said.

As of mid day on Wednesday First Selectman Fred Camillo shared the Covid-19 numbers:

• Greenwich was at a cumulative total of 2,110 cases, an increase of 243 over the previous week, which had an increase of 244 over the previous week.

• Total active cases was 109, which Camillo said was 11 more than the previous week.

• Additional death. Greenwich lost another resident this week from the virus. The previous week there was also one death. The death toll is 60 residents.

During his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Camillo said the arrival of the vaccine in Greenwich marked the final stage of the pandemic.

“The end is in sight,” he said. “We’re in a very different place than we were last March.”

Still, he cautioned, “We do have another tough month ahead, but I’m very hopeful that as long as we keep our guard up and our masks on, and our distances, we’ll be fine.”

Vaccines arrived at Greenwich Hospital on Dec 15, 2020. Photo: Greenwich Hospital