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Henry Ford Health System ready for COVID-19 vaccines

Posted at 5:29 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 17:29:08-05

(WXYZ) — As Henry Ford Health System prepares to receive COVID-19 vaccines, we bring in our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi to discuss the importance of getting the temperature right. Dr. Nandi…

Dr. Nandi:
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine candidates are temperature sensitive. And they need to be transported and stored at very cold temperatures to retain their potency, or they could become inactive and ineffective. So it’s great that Henry Ford Health System has purchased and received 6 specialized freezers that could hold both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines if they are granted Emergency Use Authorization. Moderna hasn’t yet applied for this while Pfizer has. And to make sure that the vaccine is kept at the right temperature while being shipped and distributed, Pfizer has created special thermal containers. They’ll contain dry ice that will keep the vaccine at minus 94 Fahrenheit. And these containers will maintain the ultra-cold interior temperature for 15 days.

Question: It’s possible that the FDA Advisory Committee could potentially approve Pfizer’s vaccine by December 10th. If so, who would be the first to get the vaccine?
Yes if all goes well, it’s a possibility that the State of Michigan could start receiving Pfizer’s vaccine by December 12th. Michigan is expecting to get several hundred thousand doses before the end of this year, which is a great start. But regardless of when it arrives, Henry Ford has said that they will be prioritizing their frontline team members. And that’s because the vaccine supply will be limited at first, and the CDC is also recommending this. Which I totally support. We need to keep our frontline workers healthy so that they can continue to help the numerous folks who are sick and hospitalized. And right after them, the next group to be vaccinated are the most vulnerable patients, like folks who work or live at nursing facilities and anyone who has underlying health conditions. The general public will be last, and will likely start getting vaccinated once the supplies increase, closer to spring.

Question: We’ve heard that the side effects from COVID vaccine shots won’t be 'a walk in the park’...what can you tell us about this?
Yes, I’ve talked before about some of the side effects, the companies have reported from their clinical trials. And how most participants tolerated the shots fairly well. But experts that attended a CDC meeting said that people need to be prepared for potentially unpleasant side effects. Now, this is not to scare anyone. Getting COVID could be much worse, especially for our vulnerable population. But we should still be prepared that getting vaccinated could make a person feel under the weather. Because some participants have reported body aches, fever, bad headaches, and day-long exhaustion. They also mentioned that at times these symptoms could be intense, but for the most part were considered to be a bit uncomfortable. And they typically went away after a day - sometimes sooner.