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Houston Methodist Leads Vaccination Effort to End Pandemic

Houston Methodist Baytown Chief Nursing Officer Becky Chalupa gives vaccination to Chief Medical Officer/Chief Quality Officer Dr. Shawn Tittle

BAYTOWN — (December 18, 2020) — Following this week’s historic roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine, Houston Methodist has provided more than 4,373 vaccines across the Houston Methodist system and over 530 at Houston Methodist Baytown for physicians, nurses and staff to ensure that they can continue to care for patients in the safest possible environment.

The vaccine is currently only being given to health care workers, with priority given to nurses, physicians and other providers in direct contact with patients. On Wednesday, December 16, the first day that the vaccine was made available in Baytown, more than 205 hospital employees received their COVID-19 vaccinations.

The arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine marks a true turning point in the fight against COVID-19. Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital CEO David Bernard said while there is still much work to do as the number of COVID-19 patients in the Houston area continues to rise, the vaccine brings hope that these numbers will decrease as vaccines become more readily available.

“This week has been pivotal in our fight against this virus that has impacted all of our lives for the past nine months,” Bernard said. “I want to thank Houston Methodist Baytown employees for demonstrating to their colleagues and our community how easy and safe it is to be vaccinated. The vaccine offers light at the end of the tunnel, and our hospital remains committed to helping our community emerge even stronger from the enormous challenges created by the pandemic.”

Bernard said the hospital will be focused on informing the public and patients when there is enough vaccine to begin vaccinating them and encouraging them to take it.

In late-stage clinical trials, the vaccine was found to be 95 percent effective. Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital Thoracic Surgeon Dr. Shawn Tittle, the hospital’s chief medical officer/chief quality officer, received his vaccination Wednesday and says it has proven to be extraordinarily effective and safe.

“Once the vaccine is made available to the public, Baytown area residents can rest assured that it is both safe and extremely effective,” Tittle said. “I was proud to be among the first people to receive the vaccine at Houston Methodist Baytown. I encourage everyone to take the vaccine when it’s made available and spread confidence in our community regarding its efficacy and safety.”

Becky Chalupa, Houston Methodist Baytown’s chief nursing officer, said while the arrival of the vaccine is cause for optimism, practicing virus prevention protocols will remain crucial.

“We can’t let our guard down. We have to remain diligent with the basics of wearing masks, hand hygiene and social distancing. They are all very important,” Chalupa said. “Although the vaccine is available, it will take time before it will be available to everyone. Once it is, Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital is prepared to lead the effort to both provide the vaccine and encourage everyone in our community to take it.”

Baytown Mayor Brandon Capetillo said he intends to be vaccinated as soon as it is available.

“I am thankful that Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital is leading the way with the COVID19 vaccine distribution,” Capetillo said. “I plan to take the vaccine when it becomes available to me and I encourage others to do so as well. The faster we take the steps necessary to protect ourselves and others, the quicker we can get back to some normalcy. I think we’re all ready to get back to life pre-COVID mentally, emotionally and physically. Our economy depends on it, and with the vaccine becoming available to all citizens soon, there is no reason we can’t come out of this stronger than ever.”

Despite the difficulties created by the pandemic, Houston Methodist Baytown has continued to provide essential health care services in a clean, safe environment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital has instituted numerous protocols to ensure patient safety, such as:

• Screening all patients, ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are allowed

• Wearing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing patient care

• Reorganizing waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing

• Implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces

Baytown City Manager Rick Davis said the vaccine will allow the city’s first responders to do their jobs safely.

“We are more than a little relieved that our emergency responders will soon be able to get the vaccine. They are the ones we all count on to answer our calls and take care of us. It’s imperative they be able to do that,” Davis said.

Recognizing that many people in the community have questions about the vaccine, Houston Methodist offers a wealth of information on the vaccine and those still in development. For answers to frequently asked questions, visit houstonmethodist.org/vaccine/. More information on COVID-19 and its impact is available by clicking houstonmethodist.org/blog.