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This is incredible news: Nebraska hospitals, health departments prepare for COVID-19 vaccine arrivals – KETV Omaha

On the day the Douglas County Health Department offered its latest glimpse at a coronavirus vaccination plan, Pfizer Inc. announced its own vaccine was 95% effective.Wednesday morning, county health officials health leaders also highlighted promising news from Moderna’s version of the vaccine but cautioned that the first of supply will be limited and that health department’s strategies are still a work in progress.Local doctors and pharmacists said the drugmakers will still need emergency authorization approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Once that happens, they said they believe the small amounts of vaccine they’ll receive will help protect the frontline workers most at risk in the Omaha metro and across Nebraska.During the latest Douglas County Board of Health meeting, officials from DCHD addressed the issue that U.S. pharmaceutical companies will still ship some supply of the medicine to other countries.”Based on what they’re making, what they’re producing and how that distribution is going to go, is that we’re going to get very limited vaccine to start,” DCHD Community Health Division Chief Kerry Kernen said. Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and other national medical institutes, DCHD also plans to move forward with a phased vaccine rollout approach that would first reach high-risk workers and first responders.”These are the folks that are frontline,” Kernen said. “The emergency departments and the ICUs, their primary care physician clinics, their urgent cares and long-term care facility staff that are really working with those that are high risk.””This is incredible news,” pharmacist Mike Tiesi said. “This is very positive for looking forward.”Tiesi leads the pharmacy services team for CHI Health as its division vice president. He said several of the hospital system’s locations have the necessary ultra-low temperature freezers needed to preserve Pfizer’s version of the vaccine.”We have a freezer at St. Elizabeth’s (in Lincoln) that’s ultra low. We have access to one at St. Francis out in Grand Island.” Over the next weeks, Tiesi said CHI Health’s Bergan Mercy hospital would also have access to its own freezer.At the University of Nebraska Medical Center, infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Rupp said they also have those specialized freezers ready to receive the supply. Rupp said the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 helped mold how UNMC will proceed with a vaccine.”We did learn some things from that. We’ve taken those lessons to heart, and we’re developing those plans now,” Rupp said.In the meantime, Tiesi said he remains cautiously optimistic the FDA will soon sign off on new vaccines.”We expect the vaccine to get approval in the next two weeks for emergency use. We are hoping that we have it in our site facilities mid-to-late December,” Tiesi said.Tiesi said, however, the general public may not have access to enough vaccinations until mid-spring 2021.Rupp said that wait is the reason why communities across Nebraska and Iowa cannot afford to let their guard down. He said people need to buy time and help blunt the rising curve of case and hospitalizations by keeping to the recommended actions: avoid large gatherings, wash your hands and wear a face mask.

On the day the Douglas County Health Department offered its latest glimpse at a coronavirus vaccination plan, Pfizer Inc. announced its own vaccine was 95% effective.

Wednesday morning, county health officials health leaders also highlighted promising news from Moderna’s version of the vaccine but cautioned that the first of supply will be limited and that health department’s strategies are still a work in progress.

Local doctors and pharmacists said the drugmakers will still need emergency authorization approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Once that happens, they said they believe the small amounts of vaccine they’ll receive will help protect the frontline workers most at risk in the Omaha metro and across Nebraska.

During the latest Douglas County Board of Health meeting, officials from DCHD addressed the issue that U.S. pharmaceutical companies will still ship some supply of the medicine to other countries.

“Based on what they’re making, what they’re producing and how that distribution is going to go, is that we’re going to get very limited vaccine to start,” DCHD Community Health Division Chief Kerry Kernen said.

Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and other national medical institutes, DCHD also plans to move forward with a phased vaccine rollout approach that would first reach high-risk workers and first responders.

“These are the folks that are frontline,” Kernen said. “The emergency departments and the ICUs, their primary care physician clinics, their urgent cares and long-term care facility staff that are really working with those that are high risk.”

“This is incredible news,” pharmacist Mike Tiesi said. “This is very positive for looking forward.”

Tiesi leads the pharmacy services team for CHI Health as its division vice president. He said several of the hospital system’s locations have the necessary ultra-low temperature freezers needed to preserve Pfizer’s version of the vaccine.

“We have a freezer at St. Elizabeth’s (in Lincoln) that’s ultra low. We have access to one at St. Francis out in Grand Island.” Over the next weeks, Tiesi said CHI Health’s Bergan Mercy hospital would also have access to its own freezer.

At the University of Nebraska Medical Center, infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Rupp said they also have those specialized freezers ready to receive the supply. Rupp said the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 helped mold how UNMC will proceed with a vaccine.

“We did learn some things from that. We’ve taken those lessons to heart, and we’re developing those plans now,” Rupp said.

In the meantime, Tiesi said he remains cautiously optimistic the FDA will soon sign off on new vaccines.

“We expect the vaccine to get approval in the next two weeks for emergency use. We are hoping that we have it in our site facilities mid-to-late December,” Tiesi said.

Tiesi said, however, the general public may not have access to enough vaccinations until mid-spring 2021.

Rupp said that wait is the reason why communities across Nebraska and Iowa cannot afford to let their guard down. He said people need to buy time and help blunt the rising curve of case and hospitalizations by keeping to the recommended actions: avoid large gatherings, wash your hands and wear a face mask.

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