Covenant Health addresses coronavirus vaccine readiness

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — On Monday, biotechnology company Moderna announced their vaccine is 94.5 percent effective in preventing the coronavirus according to preliminary analysis. This comes a week after Pfizer announced their vaccine is 90 percent effective.

“We’ve been preparing for the vaccine for the past several months,” Pharmacy Director for Covenant Health Wes Wells said.

Wells said they wanted to make sure they had the right storage and team to help get the vaccine to patients. Both vaccines require two doses and use groundbreaking technology. Messenger RNA gives the body instructions to produce a portion of the virus. Its critical spike protein triggers an immune response creating antibodies to fight off the virus.

“It’s going to take a little bit more coordination than what you would normally do with a flu vaccine,” Wells said.

The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at -94℉. Wells said Covenant has Ultra-Low freezers to house the vaccine.

“The state is planning that the Pfizer vaccine can be maintained using dry ice for a certain period of time and so there’s a couple of options there, so we’re kind of preparing for both ends,” Wells said.

The Moderna vaccine can be kept at the standard temperature as other vaccinations. It can also stay in the fridge for up to 30 days, while the Pfizer vaccine has a shelf life of five days.

“We just need to make sure really that we have good refrigerators and everywhere so we can make sure we can distribute it the way we want to,” Wells said.

Getting the vaccine to rural hospitals such as Covenant in Levelland and Plainview is still up in the air as well, but two models may be in the works.

“[One plan is to] send it to a centralized location and then allow them to distribute that,” Wells said. “The other idea is we distribute it to the sites where it’s being given. They don’t want it moving around or anything like that. So we really just need to evaluate what our allocations are and what works best but we’re definitely preparing for both methods.”

However, Wells said with so much constantly changing, it’s important to remain cognizant.

“So the information we have today just like with everything else with COVID may be different than what tomorrow has in store so we can try to stay ahead of it but also stay flexible,” Wells said.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are planning to file to have their vaccines available for emergency use. If the Food and Drug Administration approves, they expect the vaccine to be available to front-line workers and those most-vulnerable as early as December.

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