Trinity Health received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine today. Some 250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived this morning, with an additional shipment of 250 doses expected Monday.
Pharmacy Director Carolyn Seehafer, PharmD, DPLA, accepted the shipment, marking what she called a historic day. “This is a historic moment for Trinity Health, for our community, and for our entire nation as we embark on this effort to end the pandemic,” she said. “We’ve waited eight or nine months for this moment; I’m so very thankful to be part of the process.”
Although Trinity Health is equipped with an ultra-cold freezer for storing products such as the Pfizer vaccine, the hospital’s Pharmacy received guidance from the North Dakota Department of Health that today’s shipment could be kept at a somewhat higher temperature since the thawing process began as soon as the doses left the NDDoH. The caveat is that they need to be administered within five days, which won’t be a problem. “We will be able to store the vaccine in the ultra-cold freezer once we begin to receive shipments directly from Pfizer,” Seehafer said.
Trinity Health’s staff are excited about the vaccine and ready to move forward. “We will hold our first employee vaccination clinic tomorrow and another on Tuesday after we’ve received our second shipment,” Seehafer said. “We have been planning out the workflow, staffing, and supplies for several weeks to ensure we administer all the vaccine we receive as quickly as possible to eligible staff.”
Front-line healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities have been designated as the first groups to be vaccinated. Recommendations about subsequent groups will be made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is expected to take a matter of months to distribute enough vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated. In the meantime, people are urged to continue wearing a mask, maintaining a social distance, and washing hands frequently. Mask mandates will continue in Trinity Health facilities for all visitors and staff, in keeping with CDC guidelines.