Health officials preparing for the vaccine

NOW: Health officials preparing for the vaccine

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.-- Last week the Indiana Department of Health announced that St. Joseph Regional Health and Memorial Hospital would participate in a state-directed COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and on Tuesday St. Joe health officials met virtually to discuss updates on what they’re preparing for in days ahead.

“We’re very excited to be a vaccinator, we are one of the 50 hospitals in Indiana who has been chosen to receive vaccine first and administer the vaccine,” Saint Joseph Health System Chief Clinical Officer Genevieve Lankowicz said.

On Thursday, if everything goes according to plan, the two hospitals will receive their very first batch of the new Pfizer vaccine, produced just outside Kalamazoo.

St. Joe Health System has agreed to be the community’s vaccinator for the county, and on Friday, Phase 1A is set to go into full effect with 9,070 doses to be administered to certain frontline healthcare workers.

“Colleagues who interact face to face with patients that are the inpatient side and the angularity side are all eligible. The second important group are people who live in long-term care or assisted living facilities and the staff that serve them,” Lakowicz said.

Another shipment of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to come next week, and officials are anticipating another COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna will be approved and could ship as soon as next week as well.

“With that we’ll have even more capacity and as you know, we do intend to vaccinate over 100 million people by the end of March and shortly thereafter have 200 million more doses available for our population,” Lankowicz said.

Both COVID vaccines require two-doses and are reported to be both safe and more than 90% effective by the FDA.

Health officials said they’re optimistic the immunizations will be an essential stepping stone to the end of the deadly pandemic.

“It is so critically important for us to continue this pace that’s really, we’ve got several months yet ahead of us. So, it’s kind of like a marathon and you get to the finish line and oh we got one more you got to run,” St. Joseph Health System CEO Chad Towner said.

“I’m hopeful that people feel reassured that we do have the emergency use authorization granted for these vaccines and that people do take advantage and receive their vaccines,” Lankowicz said.

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