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Centra receives first shipment of Pfizer vaccine

Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 5:54 PM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Centra officials gathered virtually Tuesday to share good and bad news for their health system.

First, they say they’ve had to make adjustments due to excessive capacity.

“Over the weekend we did outgrow that footprint, unfortunately, and we needed to open back up the pediatric floor, which is now purely for COVID patients,” said Chris Lewis, vice president of medical affairs.

Lewis says Lynchburg General now has 71 cases of coronavirus.

That ominous landmark is the highest number the health system has seen all year - and it has strained their staff.

“Our staffing is clearly challenged now and has been frankly for some time. Our staff is stretched thin to try and care for all these patients across these many beds,” said Lewis.

However, the Pfizer vaccine has brought some hope to Centra.

Lynchburg General got its first shipment of over 2,900 doses Tuesday morning.

They will follow CDC guidelines for prioritizing its distribution.

“We are going to follow closely CDC guidelines for prioritizing caregivers, which clearly state that our caregivers who are at higher risk should be going first,” said Lewis.

They also plan to carefully adjust operations as vaccinations happen.

Although some side effects might happen, they say they have to keep things going.

“We need to keep our hospitals running, particularly as we talk about staffing challenges; we need to keep our staff as healthy as possible so that we can continue to care for our community,” said Lewis.

Centra is not mandating vaccinations to its staff.

Additionally, the number of doses they got Tuesday is not enough to cover all their staff.

However, they expect more shipments to come in the future.

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