With a mock delivery, Hawaii hospitals gear up for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines

Updated: Dec. 5, 2020 at 5:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Across Hawaii, Hospitals are preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

This week, a mock shipment of Pfizer’s treatment was sent to the Queen’s Medical Center.

The drill included a thermal container which is needed to transport the vaccine. It must be kept at a beyond chilling temperature of negative 70 degrees Celsius.

The company developed specially designed, temperature controlled shippers to handle the task.

One Hawaii doctor took part in the vaccine trial that included more than 43,000 people in the U.S. and she shared the confidence she has in the process.

“I’m kind of a doubting Thomas when new things come out, to tell you the truth. I often tell patients, don’t use it in the first year because we’ve seen some problems before,” Dr. Kelly Withy of the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center said.

“But I felt safe, and I only got the first one six, seven weeks ago, so I didn’t jump in right away. But now I feel safe and I’m actually sending my three kids who are in their twenties to get it, in the trial next week as well,” Dr. Withy added.

She didn’t report any serious side effects, saying she only had five days of tiredness and body aches, but nothing more.

The FDA has not yet approved any vaccine, but federal officials will meet on Thursday to discuss Pfizer’s treatment. A week later, they’ll review Moderna’s vaccine.

This all comes as the first round of vaccines may be initially limited on a national scale.

The CDC reportedly informed states of how many doses would be headed their way in the first shipment, and it could fall short of vaccinating all health care workers and nursing home residents, despite those people being deemed top priority. That’s about 24 million people in all.

It’s estimated a total of 40 million vaccine doses will be available if Moderna and Pfizer’s treatments get federal approval. However, each person needs two doses, and that means there would only be enough for 20 million people.

“My colleagues across the state have put their lives on the line in order to care for Hawaii’s COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Withy said. “I believe the Emergency Use Authorization of COVID-19 vaccines will be a huge step forward in preventing further infection, saving the lives of those most vulnerable to the virus and protecting our healthcare workers.”

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