Omaha-area hospitals prepare for COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 4:25 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Talk of vaccines is encouraging but local disease experts have a warning. Getting a shot is still likely months away for most of us, so we still need to wear a mask and avoid large crowds and confined spaces.

Since the consensus seems to be those facing COVID-19 every day should be first in line, 6 News talked with experts at UNMC, Nebraska Medicine, and CHI Health to see how the vaccine will be handled.

First, the food and drug administration will need to give the vaccine the green light when it comes to safety, and so far, the numbers have been promising.

Supplies will be limited for the first round.

Local experts say those who work on the COVID-19 floors would be the obvious first picks for a vaccine. It’s two shots separated by a specific number of days between the two: 21 days for the Pfizer vaccination regiment and 28 for Moderna’s.

The Pfizer one has to be stored at incredibly low temperatures; Moderna does not. Our local hospital teams are prepping for both.

Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious diseases expert at UNMC, told 6 News there’s something all of us can do now while we wait for a vaccine.

“We need to blunt the curve again. Doing this now will prevent the wildfire spread in our community. It’s going to be months before we have adequate supply of vaccines or adequate amount of monoclonal antibodies,” Rupp said. “In the meantime, we must do everything we can to prevent the transmission. We need to buy some time for medical science to catch up.”

Mike Tiesi with CHI Health Pharmacy told me they are getting some more of those specialized freezers for the Pfizer vaccine, expecting them to arrive in a pizza box-like container.

Each vial is expected to have five doses. And since there are two doses, they’ll do the math to make sure the second round is available.

After healthcare workers, it’s still being decided how to prioritize essential industries along with seniors and those with medical conditions.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.

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