University Health readies to receive, distribute nearly 6,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine

The FDA approved the vaccine in the U.S. on Friday

SAN ANTONIO – The FDA has officially approved a Covid-19 vaccine for the U.S., as of Friday. However, for area hospitals, the handling and storage of the vaccine will be no easy task.

University Health in San Antonio is expected to receive nearly 6,000 doses of the vaccine as early as next week.

Elliott Mandell, senior vice president and chief pharmacy officer at University Health, said when they receive the vaccines, they will remove the drug from the packaging and store it in their freezer.

“When we’re ready to use it, it takes two to four hours to thaw in the refrigerator. We would be moving it from the freezer into the refrigerator in the amount of vials that we would need for a given period. It’s good for five days in the refrigerator,” Mandell said.

Staff will then bring the drug into room temperature and they will have a six-hour window to administer the drug before it goes bad.

“The day we receive them, it will most likely be next day that we start our process,” Mandell said.

Besides receiving the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer, University Health is also receiving syringes and other products to prepare for its distribution.

“I’m completely confident,” Mandell said.

Mandell hopes to be one of the first in line to get the vaccine.

“In this case, the benefit far outweighs the risk — the risk of having even a minor reaction that you can treat with an anti-histamine or having a headache or whatever that might be. That’s far less than what we’ve seen with our patients here in the intensive care unit,” Mandell said.

Employees who have direct contact with COVID positive patients will be part of the first group that will receive the vaccine.

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