Americans could be just weeks away from getting a COVID-19 vaccine, but who will get it first and how fast will it be distributed to the rest of us?
A lot goes into planning the distribution of a vaccine, and here in Houston, some hospitals have already identified places where the public could go to get vaccinated.
Houston Methodist is on the list to get the Pfizer vaccine once it rolls out in the middle of December. It'll ship to them within 24 to 48 hours after the vaccine gets Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.
"We put in our orders and have been named as a pre-position site, which means we have the facilities and the freezers to accommodate receiving the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine, and then be able to break into smaller quantities and distribute it out to our workers," says Roberta Schwartz, executive vice president of Houston Methodist Hospital.
Pfizer's vaccine must be kept at extremely cold temperatures so before giving the vaccine, employees must be trained on when to take it out from the freezer and how long it can be left out.
According to Texas' vaccine distribution plan, the first group that's set to get it are health care workers. That includes workers who provide direct care for COVID-19 patients and vulnerable residents, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Once Houston Methodist is able to deliver it to the public, they have a plan in place.
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"We've located, we believe, 14 different places where we will distribute vaccines to the public. We know how many people we can safely get through there a day and how we would do it. We're working through the last of how you would make your appointment, how you would get that scheduled," says Schwartz.
Their hospitals are among the 14 locations, and a lot was factored into making those locations accessible, like parking.
With all the planning comes flexibility. Schwartz said they're ready to adjust for what could be a big change in just a matter of weeks.
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