Frederick Health Hospital will receive and store nearly 1,000 coronavirus vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech in the coming days, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.
Kelsey Shupe, director of marketing and communications of Frederick Health Hospital, wrote in an email the hospital will receive roughly 975 vaccines, but “[does] not have an exact delivery date from Pfizer at this time. However, as soon as we receive the vaccines, we are prepared to act quickly, making the vaccine available to our frontline staff as soon as possible.”
The vaccine is a two-step process, with the first dose being administered in the arm and the second being administered about three weeks after, also in the arm, said Shupe and Dr. Randall Culpepper, the county health department’s deputy health officer and medical officer.
Shupe said the doses will be kept in an ultra-low cold freezer at the hospital, and Pfizer will ship the second round of doses in time for the first 975 recipients.
Vaccines will initially be given to those recipients at the hospital, Shupe said.
“This first round of vaccines will be offered to our frontline staff who are in close, continuous contact with COVID positive patients and PUIs (Patients Under Investigation for COVID),” she wrote in an email. “This first group includes nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, CNAs [certified nursing assistants], Environmental Health staff, and many other roles.”
Dr. Culpepper wrote in an email that local pharmacies hope to send vaccines to nursing homes and assisted care facilities in the next two to three weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with Walgreens, CVS and Managed Health Care Associates, Inc. “to offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination services for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.”
“While vaccine is limited early on, production of approved vaccines is expected to increase substantially over the next number of months,” Culpepper wrote. “With guidance from the CDC and MDH [Maryland Department of Health], the FCHD [Frederick County Health Department] is working to identify health care worker priority groups. It is essential that the initial vaccinations are provided for those health care workers who have the highest risk of SARS CoV-2 infection.”
During a news briefing last week, County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer described a vaccine priority chart: It had health care workers, first responders and residents and staff of long-term care facilities in the first group to receive them.
Next were “people at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness” and then “people at moderately higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.” Finally, in Group Three, the general public will be allowed to get the vaccine.
Culpepper wrote there isn’t a timeframe on when the latter groups will be able to receive vaccines.
“Timing will depend on vaccine production, how many vaccines are authorized by the FDA, and how many people in each group choose to receive the initial doses of COVID vaccine,” he wrote.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will lead an “aggressive statewide public outreach campaign to encourage Marylanders to get vaccinated,” according to his website. Culpepper said the county’s health department will work with their peers at the state level to do so, and a campaign for a “comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination messaging campaign” will begin in early January.