BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
The pressure is mounting for city and state officials to enact a more efficient rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, as the U.S. had a staggering 22 million Americans infected with the virus as of Monday.
Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care became the first urgent care network in the nation approved to receive and administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. After receiving its initial allocation, the New York urgent care network began vaccinating team members on the front line last week.
Dr. Zipkin, chief medical officer of GoHealth Urgent Care, waited a week to receive the vaccine because he wanted to give priority to his colleagues at greater risk of exposure to the virus.
“On one hand, I want to show everyone that I’m getting the shot early. On the other, I’m not as clinical as the people who are doing this day in and day out,” Zipkin said on Monday, Jan. 11. “I didn’t want to cut the line. Leading by example means that you are not getting extra privilege. But now I’m going to roll up my sleeve and get this done.”
GoHealth team member Latoya had already received the vaccine and enthusiastically confirmed that she felt great before she administered the shots to Dr. Zipkin and their colleague Gerosimos Kapatos, the marketing coordinator for Northwell Health, on Monday at Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care in Forest Hills.
Following the CDC’s recommendations, GoHealth pre-screens patients and monitors them for 15 minutes after administering the vaccine. Dr. Zipkin emphasized that patients who receive the Moderna vaccine need to tell their health care provider of any known allergies or pre-existing conditions so that health professionals can take extra precautionary measures.
The Moderna vaccine provides the same protective technology as the Pfizer vaccine, and both have similar efficacy levels of around 95 percent. Like the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna’s inoculation requires two shots. However, the interval between the Moderna vaccine is 28 days, while the timeframe between Pfizer’s doses is 21 days. And while the Pfizer vials contain five doses and have a refrigerated shelf life of four to five days, the Moderna vials contain 10 doses and have a refrigerated shelf life of 30 days.
Zipkin urged people to get vaccinated.
“If you are tired of missing family or friends, if you are tired of not being able to go to your favorite restaurant or bar or the movie, this vaccine is for you. If you want to end the pandemic, this vaccine is for you,” Zipkin said.
Addressing those who are ambivalent about the vaccine’s safety, he pointed out that the first vaccine was administered six months ago and has since been given to over 5 million patients.
“For all the people who are in the ‘wait-and-see’ category, I’ll tell you, half a year and 5 million people are certainly enough,” he said. “We have given up a lot. I think this is our opportunity to end the pandemic and get back to socializing, to get back to our normal lives, to get back to all the things that we were doing before this all started.”