CHARLOTTE – Dr. Katie Passaretti, medical director of infection prevention at Atrium Health, was the first in North Carolina to receive the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer.
Atrium Health was the first health system in the state to administer the vaccine, which the health system says is the best way to prevent infection from COVID-19.
“This is a moment of hope as this vaccine has the potential to change the course of where we are with the pandemic,” Passaretti said Dec. 14. “I couldn’t be more excited. I feel perfectly fine and I haven’t had any issues or complications with the vaccine. I would highly encourage everyone to talk with your doctor and consider getting vaccinated when it is available for you.”
Pfizer reports its vaccine is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 among people who had no evidence of prior infection. Due to limited initial supply and based on national and state guidance, the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is being given to Atrium Health staff in high priority, patient-facing areas, such as the emergency department and medical intensive care unit, and areas where health-care workers are at a higher risk for COVID-19 exposure.
“Today, my spirit is certainly lifted with the vaccine arriving and Dec. 14 will be a historic day I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Eugene Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “This has been a year that has tested all of us, and after fighting in the trenches 24/7, I am so happy that the cavalry is finally starting to arrive. Teams have been working around the clock at Atrium Health to prepare for vaccine distribution, and while we still have some months of heavy lifting, our frontline heroes have started to get the protection they deserve as we continue to provide health, hope and healing to each community we are privileged to serve.”
Atrium Health said it remains critical for everyone to continue wearing a mask, social-distancing and handwashing, before and after having been vaccinated.
To date, Atrium Health has conducted 10 clinical trials to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Atrium Health also opened a voluntary vaccine research registry, which allows people to learn more about vaccine research and development. People who take part in the registry may be invited to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials in the future and will be provided with convenient access to trials should they be interested. Participating in clinical trials is a way for people to receive potentially lifesaving medications before they become FDA available.