North Country Healthcare Begins COVID-19 Vaccinations

North Country Healthcare Hospitals Begin Administering COVID-19 Vaccines to Employees

On Thursday, December 17, as part of North Country Healthcare’s (NCH) commitment to best ensure the health and wellbeing of our communities, NCH hospitals (Androscoggin Valley Hospital, Upper Connecticut ValleyHospital, Weeks Medical Center) began administering COVID-19 vaccines to a number of its employees who wished to receive it. A limited supply of the vaccine is being sent to each facility semi-weekly. Administration to the NCH employees requesting it is anticipated to take a number of weeks, and will be managed in a manner consistent with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Based on the COVID-19 Allocation Guidelines for Phase 1a from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS), NCH and its affiliates have reviewed all staff based on job responsibilities and assigned each individual to one of three risk categories:

Most Risk: Front line clinical staff who provide direct patient care and support staff with risk of exposure to bodily fluids or aerosols

Moderate risk: Staff who have indirect or limited patient contact

Least risk: Administrative or other staff with no expected routine patient contact

NCH and its affiliates make no distinction regarding priority among physicians, nurses, other clinicians, and support staff (e.g., housekeeping, food services, registration) who are at risk of exposure to the virus. After allocating each employee into one of the three risk categories above, each employee who has chosen to be vaccinated is assigned a number based on CDC medical risk factors and age.

The initial allotment of the vaccine was received in New Hampshire earlier this week. That allotment was then disbursed to several regions of the state, including Coos County. Initial doses are part of the Phase 1a vaccination plan which incorporates at-risk health workers, older adults in residential care settings, and first responders. Subsequent vaccination beyond Phase 1a will occur as supplies allow.

The vaccine, which is administered as two injections three or four weeks apart, dependent on the brand received, is part of NCH’s ongoing effort to reduce transmission of the virus which has recently spiked in northern New Hampshire.

“Vaccination of our employees is a critical step in significantly reducing COVID-19 transmission,” commented Tom Mee, RN, BSN, MBA, chief executive officer. “I applaud everyone within our organization who has worked so diligently in the planning and execution of this historic action. Although there remains much work to be done over the next several months, our providers, nurses, and staff continue to lead by example.”

Despite the vaccine’s rollout, the requirement for employees and patients to continue wearing face masks when within affiliate hospitals and off-site locations will remain in place. In addition, social distancing of at least six feet will be maintained.

NCH encourages everyone to speak with their respective healthcare provider about one’s interest in receiving, as well as any questions about, the vaccine as it becomes increasingly available in future phases.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

NH Department of Health and Human Services

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

 

Dated: December 15, 2020