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St. Claire HealthCare Medical Staff Show Their Support for the COVID-19 Vaccine with an Overwhelming Vote to Require Vaccination for All Physicians

St. Claire HealthCare Medical Staff Show Their Support for the COVID-19 Vaccine with an Overwhelming Vote to Require Vaccination for All Physicians

The medical staff at St. Claire HealthCare gathered for a virtual meeting on Tuesday evening with only one topic on the agenda, the COVID-19 vaccine.

Approval of the fast-tracked Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the pending approval of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine has many asking, ‘Is it safe?’ Members of St. Claire HealthCare’s medical staff answered that question with an overwhelming, YES! These physicians are so confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, they voted with an overwhelming majority to make the vaccine an expectation for all members of SCH’s medical staff.

“As president of the St. Claire HealthCare medical staff, I am proud of our members for the decision they made on Tuesday. They showed true leadership by designating the COVID-19 vaccine as an expectation,” said Rebecca M. Todd, MD, OB/GYN at UK Morehead Women’s Healthcare and SCH Medical Staff President. “Clearly our physicians recognize the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Dr. Todd, a strong advocate for the vaccine, was the first of SCH’s medical staff to receive the vaccine. She received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at UK HealthCare on Dec. 16.

“I hope that the medical staff's decision illustrates our confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” said Philip Overall, MD, Emergency Physician and Medical Director for Pandemic Response. “We're dedicated to our patients and the communities we serve and we’re doing what is necessary so we can be here for them when they need us.”

St. Claire HealthCare is ready and waiting for its first allocation of the vaccine.

“We are hoping our first allocation will arrive Monday, Dec. 21,” said Will Melahn, MD, Chief Medical Officer. “Assuming the shipment arrives as planned, we will begin administering the doses to Tier 1 - High Priority healthcare workers Monday afternoon.”

Melahn added that he hopes the vaccine will be available for all Tier 1 frontline staff by the first of the year. The remaining healthcare staff along with residents and staff of long-term care facilities most likely won’t have access to the vaccine until late January.

“Anyone who cares for COVID positive patients or would be in a room where a COVID patient was treated will be eligible for the Tier 1 vaccination distribution,” said Melahn. “This includes doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, environmental services workers, maintenance staff, and other frontline staff involved in the care of COVID patients.”

With the medical staff’s declaration of their support of the vaccine, many are asking if SCH will extend this expectation to all staff. According to Melahn, the Medical Executive Committee has not made any recommendations regarding additional staff at this time, but he is confident both clinical and non-clinical staff will join the medical staff in their overwhelming support of the vaccine.

“There is already a tremendous demand for the vaccine among our general staff,” said Melahn. Having lived with this virus and having seen its effects first hand for so long now, I believe the majority of our staff would line up to take the vaccine today if it were available.”

While the excitement is building around the administration of the vaccine to Tier1 - High Priority healthcare workers in a matter of days, there’s no certainty when the vaccine will be available for the general public. Clinical leaders at SCH are closely monitoring any allocations being made to the state and are preparing to serve as a regional hub for the coronavirus vaccine.

“We all have friends and family members in the community who are anxiously awaiting access to the vaccine,” said Dr. Overall. “We know how critical this vaccine is to the health of our community and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure everyone who needs or wants to be vaccinated has that opportunity as soon as possible.”

There’s no question. These vaccines are our greatest weapon in the fight against COVID-19.

By their overwhelming vote to support the vaccination expectation, SCH’s medical staff sent a clear message to their patients: It’s safe, it’s effective, and it’s the way we’re going to get out of this pandemic.

For more information on the coronavirus vaccine, visit