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Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Serves as Crucial COVID Vaccine Hub

Medical officer stresses importance of COVID vaccine

In December, Memorial Hermann Hospital made history as the first hospital system in Houston to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to health workers. Since then, it has vaccinated more than 115,000 people and serves as a state “vaccine hub,” providing critical storage and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible groups.

“It is important to get vaccinated,” says Dr. Christopher Langan, regional chief medical officer for Memorial Hermann The Woodlands. “We need to see over 70 percent of the country vaccinated to make headway and 94 percent to possibly eradicate this virus. We may need new vaccines as the virus strain changes and will likely be taking yearly booster shots much like the flu.”

The vaccines, which are government-issued, are produced by Pfizer and Moderna pharmaceutical companies. These vaccines teach the body to fight the virus and are more than 90 percent effective. Vaccines are safe, even for pregnant or nursing women, with few people experiencing allergic reactions, Dr. Langan says.

Each dose uses a single-strand genetic code, known as messenger RNA. This single strand is not as stable as a double-strand code which creates the need for it to be stored at subzero temperatures and administered in two doses. A recently approved vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, however, uses a more stable double-strand genetic code, known as DNA. The new vaccine does not need refrigeration, can be administered in one dose, and will likely be seen offered in drug stores or clinics.

Even after Texas dropped its mask mandate, Dr. Langan says Memorial Hermann will continue to use masks to keep patients, workers, and visitors safe. He says businesses and individuals will have to assess their own risk management, but he advocates protocol and respecting individual decisions.