Prisma Health CMO Answers Your Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine

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  • December 16, 2020
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With the Covid-19 vaccine arriving in South Carolina, many people have questions. Today, Ambulatory Chief Medical Officer at Prisma Health, Saria Saccocio, takes time to answer our questions on the Covid-19 vaccine.

When can we expect the vaccine to arrive?

For Prisma Health, the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrived Tuesday (Dec. 15), following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issuing its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11 for people 16 years and older. To protect the frontlines of healthcare workers taking care of COVID-19 positive patients every day, both the federal and state government have recommended that they be first to receive this life-saving vaccine.

Prisma Health, which received 9,750 doses, began immunizing its team members the same day.

Where will the vaccine be distributed in South Carolina?

Prisma Health is one of several distributors designated to receive the vaccine and begin the immunization process in our hospitals and subsequently to the public at large. Healthcare workers and long-term care staff and residents have been recommended to be first to receive access, followed by essential workers, and then individuals with health risks to prioritize the most vulnerable populations. By early spring and summer, the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be available community-wide.

What can be expected when it’s your turn to receive the vaccine?

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine and several others require a series of two vaccines. The first Pfizer vaccine dose is administered, followed by the second shot 21 days later. An immune response is expected 28 days after the first vaccine is administered followed by the second dose at 21 days. It’s important to receive both vaccines in the series to ensure protection against the coronavirus.

What temporary symptoms can be expected from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Much like other vaccines, temporary symptoms are typically mild and may include soreness at the site of injection, tiredness, headache, aches, pains and potentially fever. These are signs that the body is properly reacting to the shot, building up an immune response to detect and attack the virus if exposed. These temporary symptoms are more likely to occur with the second dose rather than the first.

What if I have had COVID-19, is it still recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC recommends that individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 still receive the vaccine, since the duration of natural immunity from experiencing the illness is unknown. The protection from natural immunity varies person to person, in addition to disease course.

Is it recommended to continue wearing a mask and social distancing if vaccinated against the coronavirus?

Yes, experts strongly encourage social distancing and masking to continue while we are in the midst of a pandemic.  

What can I do to stay safe and healthy before the COVID-19 vaccine is available for me and my family?

Remember, we are all in this together and continuing with best practices of social distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands will help keep our community safe. Avoid large social gatherings this holiday season, and know that hope is right around the corner!

About Prisma Health

Prisma Health is a not-for-profit health company and the largest healthcare system in South Carolina. With nearly 30,000 team members, 18 hospitals, 2,947 beds and more than 300 physician practice sites, Prisma Health serves more than 1.2 million unique patients annually. Its goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care, as well as conducting clinical research and training the next generation of medical professionals. For more information, visit PrismaHealth.org.

Saria Saccocio MD MHA FAAFP

Ambulatory Chief Medical Officer at Prisma Health



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