Local communities, healthcare facilities prepare for coronavirus vaccine

With Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine on the doorstep of approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), local healthcare facilities are hopeful they can begin administering the life-saving vaccine as soon as next week. 

As coronavirus cases rise in Pennsylvania, leading to heightened restrictions on indoor dining and crowd capacity, a vaccine could not come soon enough. Still, the first shots signal the beginning of a daunting task to plunge vaccines into the arms of millions. 

Healthcare workers and residents in long term care facilities will be first in line to receive the shot, which comes in two doses spaced out three weeks apart. However, doses are expected to be limited, leading healthcare officials to prioritize their staff.


"We’ve advised hospitals to make a priority list so individuals working with covid patients will be in the first group," Montgomery County Councilmember Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said. 

With an overall population of 830,000, Arkoosh said the legwork to vaccinate 85% of the population may take until late spring or early summer. Montgomery County has ordered freezers and is working with hospitals to store the Pfizer vaccine.

A close-up of a syringe containing a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as it is given to a patient at Cardiff and Vale Therapy Centre on December 8, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is expected to receive doses directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The city will also prioritize healthcare workers and the elderly in its first wave of vaccinations, which Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley believes could start as early as next week.

"We will give the vaccine to hospitals and they’ll vaccinate their own staff. People will go into nursing homes and vaccinate staff. We’re coming up with a mechanism to vaccinate people not affiliated with large institutions," Farley said.

On Thursday night, the advisory panel approved large-scale use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The approval process will head to its last hurdle before a decision is made.



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