AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Augusta University is putting months of preparation into action. If the Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week, AU doctors expect to begin administering it by the end of next week. They expect to receive Moderna’s vaccine the week of December 21.
“There’s a high likelihood we will have needles in arms next week,” Joshua Wyche, AU Health’s Director of Pharmacy, said.
Pfizer’s vaccine is already being administered in the U.K. Experts are now cautioning those with histories of allergic reactions not to get that vaccine after two people developed symptoms. Other side effects include fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, chills or fever.
Distributing the vaccine to the public won’t be easy. Hospitals have to have all necessary supplies on hand, including gloves, sterile equipment and freezers capable of keeping vaccines at extremely cold temperatures. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius while Moderna’s has to be kept at -20 degrees Celsius.
“AU senior leadership had the foresight to anticipate this overwhelming demand for ultra cold storage and opted to purchase two additional -70 ultra cold freezers as well as two additional -20 degree freezers.”
Healthcare workers, nursing home residents and people with high-risk medical conditions will receive the vaccine first. AU Health will not require its employees to receive the vaccine initially but may mandate it later.
Anyone who receives the vaccine will require two doses — 21 days apart for Pfizer’s product and 28 days for Moderna’s.
Logistics are complex, but the leaders of AU Health are hopeful for this next stage.
“So far, it looks very impressive in terms of efficacy and safety,” Dr. Phillip Coule, AU Health System’s chief medical officer, said.