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CHI Health unveils COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 2:11 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - CHI Health held a meeting to unveil its plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

As both Pfizer and Moderna are currently applying to the FDA for emergency use of the vaccines, officials speculate that the first vaccines should be available in the next week or two. These vaccines will focus on high-risk populations and first responders. CEO Cliff Robertson said the first round of vaccines can be administered to healthcare workers as soon as the week of Dec. 14. According to officials, by spring or early summer there should be enough vaccines for anyone to get vaccinated.

Additional ultra-low temperature freezers have been added to several key medical facilities in order to assist with the transport and storage of the vaccines. Currently there are freezers at CHI Health St. Francis and CHI Health St. Elizabeth. Another will be sent to CHI Health Good Samaritan after Christmas. The vaccines can be stored in the freezers for up to six months. They can hold a quarter of a million doses.

Both vaccines will require a second dose, between 21 to 28 days after the first. Logistically, the challenge for health systems that are going to be vaccinating their staff or first responders, will be synchronizing the second dose. Officials noted that the vaccine is not mandatory for staff workers or citizens.

According to officials, only a small percentage of patients who received the vaccine in the trial, had side effects. These included muscle aches, pains, headaches, fevers and flu-like symptoms. Robertson said they plan to stagger the vaccines for their staff in case any staff may need to take a day off the day after they are vaccinated.

Officials said that the new technology is highly effective, with a vaccine effectiveness of 95%. Of the 44,000 in the Pfizer trial, only 170 developed a COVID-19 infection (with placebo or vaccine). After further examination, only eight caught COVID after receiving the vaccine. Robertson said it is not clear how long the immunity from the vaccine will last. It is possible more booster shots will be needed in the future depending on the data that comes from the general public being vaccinated.

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