Local healthcare leaders prepare for vaccine arriving this week

Portsmouth

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Two local hospitals will be part of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan this week in Hampton Roads.

As the Pfizer vaccine is on its way, both Sentara and Riverside health organizations will be the first to receive doses of the highly anticipated drug.

“We’ve got a vaccine. We’re sort of coming out the other side, and I think that’s all really positive information,” said Cynthia Williams, vice president and chief pharmacy officer for Riverside.

“We believe right now we will probably receive the vaccine on Tuesday,” said Williams.

The goal is to administer the first vaccine on Wednesday. The facility predicts it will do a dry run on Monday. The run-throughs will help finalize the system and protocol for administration.

“We want to make sure that our work processes are good. We want to make sure that everybody’s familiar with the workflow in the computer system. It’s a good chance for us to just do that ‘fine-tuning’ if we need to make any last-minute changes,” she explained.

And frontline health care workers are first.

“We’re in the process of notifying our team members that are in the highest risk priority. And those would be who are at the frontlines taking care of COVID or COVID suspected patients every day. But you know, that makes up a lot of team members,” explained Williams.

While the vaccinations for our area will begin distribution this week, there are still a lot of questions on how long a person needs to be observed after getting a dose and who is in line to get one first. 

Williams says there is still a lot to figure out but once they get through the high-risk and essential workers, then the vaccine will trickle down to a more general population. For instance, elderly who are not in congregated living or possibly teachers.

She says she recognizes the concern of mistrust that may exist in the community.

“I know, there’s been a lot of criticism about how rapidly maybe the vaccine was developed,” but Williams explains that is just part of the concerted effort to get the vaccine out there.

“You have to look at the risk-benefit, you know, with this vaccine — at least through the 44,000 already vaccinated with it, and looking at the side effects data for roughly 38,000 of those (just because they have to match groups) — is that the safety profile of what they saw was very similar to other vaccines we have on the market,” she said.

She hopes everyone can keep an open mind as they move forward.

“I think when we look at the toll of the pandemic and how many people have died already, and the hope that this brings with 95% efficacy — I really hope folks will keep an open mind and truly consider getting this vaccine when their priority group comes up,” she added.

We will be learning more about the administration of the drug as we move forward in the week, stay with wavy on-air and online for the latest updates.


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Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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