Two local hospitals will be among the first eight in the state to receive supplies of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dr. Michael Chang, assistant chief medical officer for the USA Health System said University Hospital and USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital will receive a total of 3,000 vaccines from Pfizer sometime next week with 22 more hospitals expected to receive vaccine from Moderna a short time later.
USA Health, which purchased a super cooler for each hospital months ago, will be able to safely store the Pfizer vaccine. Shortly after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, Chang said, the hospitals would receive the vaccine Moderna produced, which can be stored under regular refrigeration.
“There are stringent expectations for distribution for the hospitals participating in this,” Chang told a gaggle of reporters at a press conference Friday. “There are certain percentages of hospital workers, certain percentages of retirement home workers and first responders who will be vaccinated first.”
Both vaccines come with required booster shots. The Pfizer vaccine needs a booster after 21 days and the Moderna vaccine needs a booster after 28 days, Chang said.
USA Health is making plans to begin vaccinations, but must wait until the Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccines for distribution, he said.
While this news and the vaccine, in general, represents an opportunity to get life back to normal, Chang said until it’s widely distributed and produces a “herd immunity” between 70 and 80 percent, the public needs to keep on doing what medical professionals have been urging since the start of the pandemic, which includes practicing safe social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing hands regularly.
“We need everybody to hang on and keep doing the things we have been doing,” he said. “We’ve got to hang in there with these things while the vaccine gets distributed.”
Once wide distribution of the vaccine is available, Chang said, USA Health would have three vaccination sites. Two would be in-person at each of the hospitals and one would be a drive-in site at one of the hospitals. He said officials have not determined which one would be used yet, but those details are forthcoming.
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