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(Denison, IA) – Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) began administering the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine today (December 30, 2020) beginning with its medical providers and nursing staff. Doctors, advanced practitioners, clinic and hospital nursing staff, Emergency and Ambulance department personnel will be at the head of the line to receive the vaccine.

Erin Muck, President and CEO, said CCMH received a new shipment of the vaccine from Moderna earlier this week and has wasted no time in getting it to staff members.

“It is so important to provide this protection for our staff who are consistently in contact with COVID-19 positive patients,” Muck noted. “This has been a long-time coming, but it is a very welcome development in our battle against this deadly virus.”

John A. Lothrop, III, MD, Chief of Medical Staff at CCMH, one of the first to receive the vaccine, expressed his desire to see as many people as possible receive the vaccine over the coming weeks.

“We know there are people in Crawford County who are skeptical about the vaccine. They might be worried about side effects, or that the vaccine won’t be effective. I’ve heard from a number of people who think the vaccine won’t matter,” Dr. Lothrop said. “Keep in mind studies show the vaccine is highly effective and, so far, none of the clinical trials have shown any serious safety concerns. I would highly recommend everyone in the community become vaccinated.”

Dr. Lothrop pointed out you cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine, and the immune responses of a sore arm, aches, and fatigue are actually good signs the vaccine is working.

While many people have been calling about the vaccine over the past few weeks, the CCMH Medical Staff is counseling patience until more doses of the vaccine are available for the general public. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a strict vaccination plan that starts with medical personnel and eventually is available for everyone. Dr. Lothrop said the roll-out will start slowly but there is hope enough vaccine will be available that anyone who would like the vaccine will be able to receive it by the summer of 2021.

Muck used the occasion of the administration of the vaccine to make a point she has returned to several times in interviews over the past several months.

“The fewer people who are sick with COVID-19, the less pressure we put on our medical providers and nursing staff. With the cooperation of our patients and their families, we can help slow the virus and eventually get us back to some semblance of normalcy,” Muck said.

Muck said CCMH will provide periodic updates on the availability of the vaccine and will work with Crawford County Public Health, and Crawford County Emergency Management, to implement the phases recommended by the CDC as they are rolled out.