Local hospitals prepare to distribute new COVID-19 vaccine next week

Posted at 6:34 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 18:34:03-05

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ)  — The government is working on final approval from the FDA and CDC of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA is expected to weigh in first.

The CDC has a meeting on Sunday afternoon when it is expected to sign off. As soon as that happens the vaccine is expected to be on the way to hospitals.

The Henry Ford Health System got the call Thursday from the state. If approval goes through as expected all of its hospitals will receive almost 1,000 doses each of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine early next week.

Dr. Adnan Munkara M.D., the Executive Vice President of Henry Ford Health System, says the hospital system right now is working to schedule vaccinations of workers most at risk of contracting COVID-19 at work. The virus has forced the hospital system to bring in staff from out of state due to the spread of the virus in the community.

“As of today we have 686 employees who are off work related to COVID-related illnesses and/or testing,” said Dr. Munkara.

“I would say the biggest challenge is the number of people who want the vaccine and the number of vaccines we are going to have right out of the gate,” said Carolyn Wilson, Chief Operating Officer Beaumont Health System.

Wilson says with tens of thousands of workers, the hospital system is using a lottery system to select many of the first vaccine recipients of those workers most at risk of exposure through their jobs.

Both hospital systems are also working on plans to get others on the front line, such as first responders and long-term care facility workers vaccinated.

It could be a few months, sometime early in 2021, before hospitals expect to offer the vaccine to the community at large.

The Pfizer vaccine is not a vaccine that they can just casually have ready for appointments. Distribution is being planned down to the minute.

“There is a speed issue here. Once we mix the vaccine the stabilization is only about 6 hours. So for example for us, as a nurse, I will be partnered with a pharmacy technician who will be drawing up the vaccine as I give it to the net patient. So speed is really the issue here,” said Wilson.

In the meantime, both hospital systems say they have done independent reviews of the safety research available on this vaccine and they say it appears effective and safe.