ROCKFORD, Illinois, December 16, 2020 – Mercyhealth announced today it was one of the first health systems in Rockford to administer an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. Mercyhealth has developed comprehensive plans to safely and effectively distribute the vaccine for the region, as vaccination is the best way to prevent infection from COVID-19.
“Today, is a historic day for us at Mercyhealth,” said Javon R. Bea, President and CEO of Mercyhealth. “Our team has been working around the clock to prepare for vaccine distribution. I’m very proud of our team in organizing this effort and consider this moment an incredible accomplishment.”
Pfizer reports its vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among people who had no evidence of prior infection. Due to limited initial supply and based on federal and state guidance, the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine is being given to Mercyhealth employees who are high priority, patient-facing areas such as the emergency department and medical intensive care units, and areas where health care workers are at a higher risk for COVID-19 exposure.
Dr. Jason Bredenkamp, emergency medicine physician and chairman, was one of the first to receive the vaccine in Rockford today. “I would have camped out for days to be first in line for this vaccine. This has been a year that has tested all of us, and after fighting in the trenches 24/7, I am so happy and thankful for this day,” says Dr. Jason Bredenkamp, emergency medicine physician and chairman.
Mercyhealth received its initial shipment of 1,600 doses and vaccinated nearly 300 of its employees in the first 90 minutes on the first day at both Rockton and Riverside Campuses.
While things look promising, it is important to know there are several steps to move through before a vaccine is available to the public. It is critical that we all take steps to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. As we approach the holidays, we understand how important it is to gather with family and friends but our local hospitals are caring for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients. You can help us stop the spread and reduce pressure on hospitals by wearing a mask, not gathering with people outside your household, avoid contact with people who are sick, stay six feet from others, avoid crowds, practice good hand hygiene, and if you have symptoms, stay home.