CHI St. Alexius, Sanford preparing for first shipment of COVID vaccines next week

Sanford Health and CHI St. Alexius are working with the state Health Department to coordinate their vaccine plans.
Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 6:25 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Sanford Health and CHI St. Alexius are working with the state Health Department to coordinate their vaccine plans.

As the days get closer to receiving the first shipment, hospitals are zeroing in on exactly what their plans are. However, there are still some unknowns. Whether you plan to get it, don’t want it or are on the fence.

“I just haven’t made up my mind. It’s not that I’m afraid of anything. But, I’m not afraid of getting COVID either,” said Bismarck resident Jim Schmidt.

Hospital staff says the vaccines are on their way and are preparing plans based on information that’s continuously updating.

“It’s a little bit like trying to build a house without a blueprint,” said Greg Fritz, Sanford in-patient pharmacy supervisor.

Health workers say we’re just weeks away from the first planned vaccinations.

Here’s what we know so far:

The state has already ordered vaccines that are on their way. The first to arrive will be from Pfizer. Hospitals expect about 600 doses. Still unknown is when hospitals will receive more shipments or which vaccine will arrive next. Because doses will be so limited in the first shipment, hospitals plan to vaccinate staff before anyone else.

“Those workers that are at the highest risk, COVID-patient facing-- they’ll be the first to receive it and then we’ll work our way down from there,” said Joan Galbraith, CHI St. Alexius pharmacy quality and clinical research manager.

Pfizer vaccines must be stored at -94 degrees, which hospitals say they’re ready for.

“We have our ultra-cold freezer on a backup generator. We also have a CO2 canister attached to it in case there was a mechanical failure of that freezer, so we would have time to come up with alternate storage if that ever happened. And then, we have a temp-logger on that freezer that takes a temperature every 15 minutes and sends it to a website. If it goes out of range, we get warnings,” Fritz said.

Hospital staff will receive vaccines in the clinics the same way they receive flu shots.

Pfizer reports its COVID vaccine is 95% effective against coronavirus beginning 28 days after the first dose.

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