Local hospitals prepare to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — North Carolina is now just a couple of weeks away from getting the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s going to a complicated process. Triad hospitals are already preparing to receive the shipment.

For rural health systems, it’s going to be a little more complicated.

“I’m not one bit worried that we can’t manage getting that vaccine out to everyone,” Randolph County Health Director Susan Hayes said.

It’s the one part of the pandemic that Hayes is not concerned about.

She told FOX8 that the vaccine news couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We have 893 individuals currently in isolation,” Hayes said.

In a non-descript box with a frigid temperature of -80 degrees, 5,000 vials of the new Pfizer vaccine will soon be stored at Randolph Health in Asheboro.

The first group to get it will be frontline health care workers and long-term care facility residents.

After they get their doses, county leaders will figure out how to get it to other people.

“It’s not just public health that can [distribute it]. It’s not just the hospital that can do it,” Hayes said. “We have lots of providers, local providers, physicians, and we’ll probably see some pharmacies and some vendor groups that come in and help provide the vaccine.

That means officials have to come up with a work-around for storing the vaccine to make it more accessible.

“[Pfizer] is shipping the vaccine out in containers that will maintain the level of temperature for at least five days. Those containers will also allow dry ice to be added, after that point in time,” Hayes said.

Across the Triad, health systems and county leaders are working together.

A representative with Novant Health told FOX8, they’re in the process of purchasing the special refrigeration units needed to store the vaccine.

Wake Forest Baptist Health Officials said they will also be ready for the vaccine when they receive it the week of December 14.

“It’s going to be a team approach. It will have to be because it’s the biggest undertaking we’ve ever had, in terms of getting a vaccine out to our population,” Hayes said.

While they get to work to make sure people can get the vaccine, they said it’s going to take everyone’s cooperation to make a difference.

“Getting vaccines is one of the ways that is going to help us get back to a level of normalcy,” Hayes said. “We can all get back to doing all of the things we love to do, and having our get-togethers, and all of those things that we’re missing right now.”

Hayes added that because the vaccine distribution will be a phased in approach, people still need to wear masks and practice social distancing.

FOX8 also tried to make contact with the Davidson County Health Department, but as of air-time, had not received responses.

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