PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Officials are expecting the Food and Drug Administration to approve Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine today or tomorrow. Vaccinations could begin Monday and hospitals and nursing homes around the Philadelphia region are in the final stages of planning for the frontline workers to get shots.
Freezers are in place to receive the first batches of vaccine. Health care workers who interact directly with COVID-19 patients will be first to get the vaccine.
This comes after the FDA advisory panel reviewed and cleared this first vaccine Thursday. Dr. Paul Offit, with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is on the committee.
“We reached the right conclusion which is this vaccine should be approved for use,” Dr. Offit said.
He says there were some issues with the Pfizer vaccine about reactions in people who have severe allergies, which need further study.
But, he said, “It’s really not going to make a difference in how we manage people who get this vaccine.”
While shown to be safe and effective for most people, the Pfizer vaccine is still being studied for children and pregnant women.
“From what you know now, would you and your family get this vaccine when it’s available?” Stephanie Stahl asked.
“In a minute,” responded Dr. Offit. “I can’t wait to get this vaccine.”
Hospitals are ready. The freezer now in place at Einstein.
“We’ve been looking forward to this day for a while now,” Einstein nurse manager Kendra Peot said.
Peot will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s approved.
“Having the vaccine for us is just the beginning to the end of this pandemic,” Peot said.
Hospitals will be getting the vaccine through a coordinated effort by Pfizer, UPS and FedEx.
UPS says it’s a three-step process that’s already underway:
- Step 1: shipping vaccine administration kits containing things like syringes.
- Step 2: shipping the actual vaccine
- Step 3: sending dry ice to sites that don’t have the ability to keep the vaccine at extreme, sub-zero temperatures
“In theory, vaccines could start being given to Americans on Monday,” Dr. Offit said.
Frontline workers will be getting the first doses as they tackle a Thanksgiving surge in cases.
“The vaccine couldn’t come at a better time,” Peot said.
Federal officials plan to allocate the first 6.4 million doses of the vaccine to states based on their population. States will have the final say on who gets the first shots and where they are administered.
In addition to all the logistics to get the vaccine out of this facility, the U.S. Marshals will be protecting doses as they’re moved around the country.
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