Hospitals prepare for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Hospitals throughout Puget Sound are preparing distribution plans for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. A health department spokesperson told Q13, the state anticipates receiving vaccines as early as December 14th or 15th. The federal government is set to ship out 2.9 million doses within 24 hours, including 62,000 doses to Washington state.

For the thousands in our state who got COVID-19, the news of a vaccine is promising.

"I got it right before Thanksgiving. It was the Monday of that week. And I got it from my girlfriend. My girlfriend is a nurse," said John Ellis from Pierce County.

Ellis' symptoms were considered mild compared to many others.

"For me, it was a loss of taste and smell. And I had a really bad headache and my eyes hurt. And I had random aches around my body. But that was about it for me," he said.

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He's now on the mend and is looking forward to seeing more people be protected from COVID.

"It would be good to have to stop the spread quicker. I think it would be great to have people immune to it," said Ellis.

The first group of people to receive vaccines will be the state's frontline healthcare workers. Hospitals are rolling out distribution plans to get ready. Overlake Hospital in Bellevue said a part of their plan is to vaccine their workers near the end of their shift, for those who have two days off. The reason for that is just in case of any side effects. They will vaccinate workers in a large auditorium on site and have those vaccinated to wait for about 15 minutes so nurses and volunteer physicians can monitor any bad reactions, according to the hospital.

At the University of Washington's Medical Center hospitals, freezers are in place to store the vaccine at the recommended below freezing temperature.

"We are working on our operations plan to make sure that everyone at each of the sites is able to get the vaccine," said Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, director of Harborview Medical Center's Infectious Diseases Clinic.

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But while healthcare workers will most likely get the vaccine, it is a much different story for the general public.

Dan Bustillos is a nursing and health studies professor at the University of Washington Bothell campus. He was also instrumental in vaccine and pandemic planning for the state of Texas before coming to UW-Bothell. Bustillos helped with forming the state's HPV roll-out campaign. He believes that public health officials need to build trust for people to take the vaccine.

"We just have to be really upfront and transparent about those shortcomings, as well as touting the really great data that shows that vaccines are exceedingly safe and exceedingly efficacious," said Bustillos.

There will be many challenges for the vaccine to be distributed including production, logistical challenges, along with those who refuse to take the vaccine, he said.

"Long-term efficacy of these vaccines, how many will need booster shots in addition to the two that are already planned," said Bustillos.

Overall, however, he believes this vaccine is safe.

"The fact that we have it on our doorstep right now and then crossing the threshold as we speak means that we should be in a celebratory mood right now," he said.