Ascension Seton administers COVID-19 vaccine in Austin area

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  • Front-line caregivers at four Greater Austin Ascension Seton facilities received the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine last week. Contributed
    Front-line caregivers at four Greater Austin Ascension Seton facilities received the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine last week. Contributed

Ascension Seton is implementing a comprehensive vaccine administration plan that is consistent with federal and state guidance, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine. Last week, Ascension Seton administered its first COVID-19 vaccines to frontline caregivers at four hospitals in the Greater Austin area, including Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas at Austin, Dell Children’s

Medical Center and Ascension Seton Hays. “Caregivers continue to lead by example, and I encourage everyone in the communities we serve to get vaccinated when it’s made available to you,” said Dr. Nicholas Steinour, emergency department medical director at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin. “In particular, we know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted high-risk, marginalized individuals, and people of color, and it’s important that we do everything possible to demonstrate that the approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and work to ensure all people ultimately have access to them.”

Among the first group eligible to receive the vaccines are frontline caregivers particularly those serving in emergency departments, COVID-19 units and intensive care units.

AtAscension Seton, this team includes frontline emergency department staff who accept and treat COVID patients, ICU doctors and nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, housekeeping and facilities management staff, to name a few — all whose roles place them in the forefront of the battle against COVID.

Ascension Seton anticipates that the remainder of its associates will be eligible for the vaccine in a phased approach as more doses become available and the distribution process progresses. The prioritization for vaccination will follow the Texas Department of State Health Services guidelines.

“We are encouraging our own associates to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help ensure the continued safety and well-being of them, their families and all those we are privileged to serve, and for the general public to do so once it becomes available,” said Andy Davis, president and CEO of Ascension Texas.

“We are taking extra steps to ensure these frontline staff have access to the vaccine, and we are working to eliminate social and economic barriers to ensure that they can receive the vaccine as a prioritized group. Vaccination is one of the most effective strategies to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19.”

Earlier this year, Ascension developed a workgroup to establish an overarching framework for equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccines for internal and external distribution, acknowledging the need for a coordinated response by the hospital’s ministry that is guided by its mission and informed by its experience of caring for the communities the hospital serves.

All approved vaccines require extensive research, documentation and closely monitored clinical trials to determine effectiveness and safety before being submitted by pharmaceutical companies for approval.

When COVID-19 vaccines are available for consumers, Ascension sites of care will share information about vaccine availability.