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Northern Light hospitals prepare for COVID-19 vaccine

“There is every expectation that we will receive the first doses before the end of 2020.”
News that a vaccine for coronavirus could soon receive emergency approval has hospitals around...
News that a vaccine for coronavirus could soon receive emergency approval has hospitals around the world working to be ready for it.
Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 4:20 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Hospitals around the world have been getting ready for the delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine.

TV5 spoke with the director of Northern Light Health’s Center for Emergency Preparedness about those preparations and what comes next for Mainers.

“We’ve actually been working on mass vaccination planning since July,” explained Kathy Knight.

Knight says recent news about a possible Pfizer vaccine has expedited their process.

Knowing this version requires ultra cold storage falls in line with previous planning.

“The ultra low freezers, in the event we should get the type of vaccine that needed that sort of a refrigeration, so we early on anticipated that there would be a shortage of those devices, so we move forward and and ordered those freezers,” she said.

Those four freezers are located at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, A.R. Gould in Presque Isle, Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover Foxcroft, and Mercy Hospital in Portland.

“The interior of these ultra low freezers are 28 cubic feet, so that means that we can store approximately 15,000 doses of vaccine in each of the refrigerators or ultra low freezers,” said Knight.

The training now shifts to administering the vaccine.

“These things are not unusual for us,” she explained. “They are very well practiced and established processes.”

But this is different than a flu shot.

“So, that’s where we’re concentrating a great deal of our efforts,” she said. “We’re having our content experts advise us on how to move forward with some of this planning. It just requires a greater strategy to ensure that we do not waste any vaccine. That’s the crucial point is that we don’t waste any vaccine because it will be in short supply initially.”

Knight worries about what she calls vaccine hesitancy, but she assures everyone they wouldn’t give it out if it wasn’t safe.

“Carefully evaluate every medication and vaccine that is released to ensure that the safety data, the scientific data, demonstrates that it is safe and effective,” she said.

Knight adds if things stay on this current track, it could be coming soon.

“As far as I know, there is every expectation that we will receive the first doses before the end of 2020.”

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