Beaumont Health Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention Dr. Nick Gilpin, chief medical officer of Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, is the first member of the Beaumont Health team to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 15 at the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield.

Beaumont Health Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention Dr. Nick Gilpin, chief medical officer of Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, is the first member of the Beaumont Health team to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 15 at the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield.

Photos provided by Beaumont Health


Front-line health care workers at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, among first to receive COVID-19 vaccine

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 16, 2020

 These vials of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were administered to Beaumont Health workers on the front lines in the battle against the deadly virus.

These vials of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were administered to Beaumont Health workers on the front lines in the battle against the deadly virus.

 Beaumont Health medical staffers applaud as boxes carrying doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive.

Beaumont Health medical staffers applaud as boxes carrying doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive.

 A truck arrives at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, with an initial batch of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

A truck arrives at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, with an initial batch of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

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SOUTHFIELD — Health care workers from Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, were among the first in Michigan to receive their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 Dec. 15 at the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield.

The arrival of the lifesaving vaccine is the first ray of hope in the battle against a deadly virus that has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 in the United States alone, and more than a million around the world. Millions more have been sickened, and some patients still suffer debilitating illness months later.

“It feels like the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, nurse Guilia Heiden said by email. “It’s so amazing that we’re already at the point of vaccination, and it’s a true testament to how far science has come and continues to advance. I’m grateful to have been able to be one of the first people to receive the vaccination.”

Those receiving the vaccine are in the high priority 1A category, meaning that they have direct or indirect exposure to COVID-19 patients or infectious materials, hospital officials said. The Beaumont Health system has received 975 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Health care workers in the high priority group were chosen at random to get an invitation to receive the vaccine. At this time, Beaumont isn’t mandating vaccination for its employees, so they can choose not to be vaccinated. Fifteen members of the 1A group — including Beaumont Health Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention Dr. Nick Gilpin, chief medical officer of Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe — were selected to receive the vaccine Dec. 15. Gilpin was the first of the 15 to receive the vaccine.

“We have been waiting for the arrival of a vaccine since the pandemic began,” Gilpin said in a press release. “I’m confident this vaccine, and the others in development, will stop the spread of the virus and save lives. Yet, I also know it’s going to take some time for the majority of the population to get vaccinated. In the meantime, it’s critically important we all keep wearing masks and practicing social distancing.”

A Beaumont Health spokesperson said on Dec. 15 the health system “launched a robust clinic to provide the vaccine to staff,” so others in the high priority group should be receiving their first dose of the vaccine soon. The second dose will be administered in a few weeks, hospital officials said.

The spokesperson said by email that the vaccine was first delivered to Beaumont Hospital, Troy, but then was “immediately transported” to the Southfield location because that was “a more central location with easier access” to Beaumont’s eight hospital campuses in metro Detroit.

The Pfizer vaccine — which is administered in two doses — was the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.

The vaccine couldn’t come soon enough. As of Dec. 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was reporting that 442,715 Michiganders have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March, and there have been 10,935 confirmed deaths in Michigan from the virus.

Heiden is a board-certified registered nurse who has spent nearly six years in nursing. She has seen firsthand how devastating this virus has been.

“My unit was the first unit designated as a Covid Unit for Med-Surg patients (those not requiring monitoring by a cardiac nurse on our Critical Care Step Down Unit or the ICU),” Heiden said by email. “We have been caring for Covid patients since the first surge in March. We didn’t have too many Covid patients in the summer, but we have been taking care of a significantly larger number lately and they are more sick (like in March).”

She hopes people will heed what health experts around the country are saying about the vaccine being safe and properly tested.

“I hope that enough people are willing to receive the vaccine (both doses) that we can effectively put an end to this pandemic,” Heiden said via email. “Many people have this view that because the vaccine is new, that it is not safe since we don’t know the long-term effects. What I hope people try to understand is that the science behind the vaccine has been studied and used for years, which is why we have this vaccine so quickly. It’s true we don’t have any long-term data about the vaccine, but we do know that a significant number of people have developed long-term effects from Covid infection. I think the risks associated with Covid and possibly spreading Covid to vulnerable family members (which is what we are seeing a lot of right now with this second surge) greatly outweigh the risks of getting the vaccine (which the FDA has authorized for public use and would not have done so if the data showed that the vaccine was unsafe).”

The vaccine is expected to be available to the general public in spring or summer, after populations such as health care workers, seniors, essential workers and those with underlying medical conditions have a chance to be vaccinated.

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