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Kentucky hospital system says trial vaccine run a success

UK has enough ultra-cold freezer space to store at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, Almeter said.
UK has enough ultra-cold freezer space to store at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine,...
UK has enough ultra-cold freezer space to store at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, Almeter said.(WSFA)
Published: Dec. 5, 2020 at 11:40 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s largest hospital system announced on Friday that a trial run for ordering and receiving doses of a COVID-19 vaccine was successful.

University of Kentucky HealthCare in Lexington was chosen by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Kentucky Department for Public Health for a distribution readiness test for Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

While the mock run was fairly simple — an order was placed, and empty boxes were received — it was crucial to gauging the time between order and arrival, and to showing that the vaccine container could be kept at the necessary ultra-cold temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius.

“There was a temperature probe that was keeping real-time monitoring, and everything was in line,” UK HealthCare Chief Pharmacist Philip Almeter said Friday. “The test went very smoothly. We didn’t have any hiccups.”

Pending emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Almeter said, “we anticipate that it’ll either be the 14th or 15th when we would be able to start vaccinating.”

Once the Pfizer vaccine thaws, it must be used within five days. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second dose about 21 days after the initial dose. UK expects to receive the booster doses “before the 21 days is up,” Almeter said.

Kentucky is slated to receive just over 38,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by mid December, with the bulk going to nursing home staff and residents. The remaining 12,675 doses will be distributed among 11 hospitals in the state.

UK has roughly 9,000 health care employees, although not all of them work directly with patients. The first batch of vaccine is reserved for the most at-risk workers, including those who work directly with coronavirus patients and in emergency care. UK is not making the vaccinations mandatory.

Once Kentucky begins to receive vaccines, each dose administered will be logged in the statewide immunization registry, so the state can track who received which dose and how many vaccines are left.

UK has enough ultra-cold freezer space to store at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, Almeter said.

While “early on, the amount of vaccine is going to be small compared to the needs, we’ll be gradually building on this over time,” Mark Newman, UK’s vice president of health affairs, said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to start to have the beginning of the end of COVID-19.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.