LOS ANGELES — This very moment is something Hhala Hosn kept in the back of her mind for months as she saw patients.
“It just felt like the flu shot. A little sting,” said Hhala Hosn.
Despite just feeling a tiny pinch, Hosn said she was nervous.
“I think people are more scared of what could happen rather than what it really is,” said Hosn, a nutritionist assistant at the Keck Hospital of USC in Los Angeles.
After months of coming in close contact with patients known to have the coronavirus, Hosn joins about 4,500 other frontline healthcare workers at USC in getting the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
“I see patients every day and I was scared too because some patients have COVID and sometimes we don’t know until later after we’ve been in the room,” she said.
Hosn said she and her coworkers powered through their shifts, but kept wondering when the vaccine would come.
Two leaders within Keck Medicine of USC led a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to explain the provider’s plan in continuing to vaccinate its employees and eventually the public.
Chief Pharmacy Officer Krist Azizian was one of the leaders present during the virtual meeting. He said so far, Keck has administered more than 4,500 doses out of the 8,000 it has received. Employees who see patients face to face, like Hosn, are at the front of the line. The next phase will include essential workers and people ages 75 and up.
“We are optimistic that we’ll get to them sometime in the first quarter of the year. We’ll have enough ample supply. There’s been nothing to suggest otherwise,” said Chief Officer Krist Azizian.
The medical administrative team is working with the County of Los Angeles and the County’s Department of Public Health in coming up with a strategy to distribute vaccinations. Dr. Neha Nanda, the medical director of infection prevention, brought up the new highly contagious COVID strain that’s been found in five different states including California.
“It will be able to tackle the new variant. That’s what we know today. This variant is not something people will have to succumb to if we’ve taken the vaccine,’ said Dr. Neha Nanda.
The leaders said people who are pregnant, nursing, undergoing transplants, or are hesitant should speak to their physicians prior to getting vaccinated.
Officer Azizian said an internal survey was conducted which showed that roughly 20% of employees were hesitant in getting the vaccine. So the hospital is working with its different units on an education campaign to help its employees learn the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Hosn’s next dose is in three weeks. She said her nerves about working during a pandemic is disappearing and she believes she can do an even better job of helping patients get back on track with their nutrition out of the hospital and back home with their families.