NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — As Pfizer awaits FDA approval for its COVID-19 vaccine, hospitals in Connecticut said they are ready to immunize frontline health care workers.
In preparation for FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, Trinity Health of New England has a brand new freezer at its St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.
“We have the largest ultra-cold freezer in the state of Connecticut which can hold up to 600,000 vials,” said Dr. Syed Hussain, Chief Clinical Officer for Trinity Health of New England.
Yale New Haven Health and Hartford HealthCare have similar freezers, which can store the Pfizer vaccine, which comes in two doses and needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Each of the three major healthcare systems in the state have several local hospitals and they will have vaccination clinics at each one.
“Freezers will be strategically placed to facilitate the geography of Hartford HealthCare,” said Keith Grant, Senior System Director for Infection Prevention at Hartford Healthcare.
It also takes quite a bit of coordination to get so many frontline health care workers immunized.
“Overall we have several thousand health care workers that are on the front lines here at Lawrence & Memorial,” said Dr. Oliver Mayorga, Chief Medical Officer for Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. “Within the health system of Yale, it’s over 30,000.”
Because the first round of this vaccine is limited, Dr. Mayorga believes it could take seven to eight weeks before all the healthcare workers get that first dose.
They also need to take into consideration possible side effects that have been seen in the trials like fatigue, headaches and body aches which can last one to two days.
“For instance, we don’t want all of our emergency medicine department or the ICU for instance all the intensive essential nurses there taking the shot on the same day,” explained Dr. Hussain.
The strategic plan has been a challenge they welcome.
So when will they be ready to go? “Yesterday,” Dr. Hussain said with a laugh.
“We’re ready and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Mayorga.