June 14, 2021

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Hospitals prepare for first shots as virus vaccine shipments blanket US

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HonorHealth has been preparing for the arrival for weeks, assembling ancillary kits, organizing items to use with the vaccines, and rehearsing in tents where the company will carry out the vaccinations.

Still, many in Arizona will have to wait. Dr. Jackson said she expected older patients to start receiving the vaccine sometime after the first of the year. “It doesn’t seem like the infrastructure is ready to do it any sooner,” she said.

While hospitals have long-established systems to deliver flu vaccines and ship medications from central hospitals to far-flung clinics, the arrival of such a new, high-profile vaccine forced new security measures up and down the distribution network. The vaccines were shipped on guarded trucks outfitted with sensors to monitor temperature, location and light exposure. Hospitals installed new security cameras, and several are being tight-lipped about where the vaccines will be stored and administered.

Dr. Jeff Salvon-Harmon, the chief patient safety officer for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, which operates several hospitals around New Mexico, said that while Presbyterian was going to distribute the vaccine at indoor locations in its facilities, he was refraining from providing more information about where.

“As you can imagine, with concerns over the novelty of the vaccine and risks of diversion or sabotage, we want to be sensitive to that and provide security,” said Dr. Salvon-Harmon.

Despite such concerns, Dr. Salvon-Harmon said the plan in the coming weeks was to administer the vaccine to Presbyterian’s entire work force — about 15,000 people including independent medical staff — after prioritizing frontline caregivers who have direct contact with patients or infectious material.

In Miami, the Jackson Health System, a large hospital network that has treated more than 4,700 patients with Covid-19, has been buzzing with planning meetings, a virtual town hall, vaccine preparation training, and the reimagining of a pharmacy unit for wide-scale vaccinations.

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