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Kaweah Health receives COVID vaccine, finalizes plans to give to healthcare workers

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Laura Florez-McCusker

VISALIA, CA – Today, Kaweah Health Medical Center received its first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine and finalized preparations to begin giving the vaccine to healthcare workers at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“The vaccine is our dawn. It’s the warm sun finally rising over the horizon and giving us hope,” said Gary Herbst, Chief Executive Officer of Kaweah Health. “I wish we had had it a month ago, that would have been ideal, but frankly, I’ll take what I can get. We’re looking forward to that immunity. I just wish it was in larger quantities, sooner, so we could begin inoculating a much larger percentage of our population and really start developing that widespread immunity.”

Kaweah Health will begin administering the first dose of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to 1,950 of its 5,100 employees on Friday, Dec. 18. Vaccinations will continue throughout the weekend, finishing up on Tuesday. Twenty-one days later, the second dose will be given to those who have received the vaccine. Kaweah Health expects shipment of more vaccine next week, possibly the Moderna vaccine, which is pending FDA approval at this time.

On Wednesday, Kaweah Health was caring for 141 COVID-19 patients at its Medical Center, with 14 COVID patients in its 41-bed ICU where as of 7 a.m., 10 beds were available. On Dec. 12, Kaweah Health reached an all-time high of 150 COVID-19 patient admissions. Staffing hospital beds continues to be a problem with the number of staff members on leave of absence either from exposure or other reasons, or because they are quarantined because they live with someone who is positive for COVID-19.

“We’re two and a half weeks out from Thanksgiving and it’s usually 2-3 weeks post-holiday that we start seeing the hospitalizations, so maybe we’re peaking now. We might have a couple week lull between now and Christmas, but then we greatly fear an even more powerful resurgence that hits 2-3 weeks after Christmas,” Herbst said. “Unfortunately, we say it’s the darkest before the dawn. The vaccine is our dawn, but we’re going to have to go through a period of darkness before we get to that dawn.”

Kaweah Health shares COVID-19 information and regular updates, including parking and construction news, with the community on its website at and on its social media accounts. #