(Guardian)–December 14th, 2020–“It feels like the cavalry is arriving,” Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said as New Jersey’s largest health network awaited delivery of the first authorized Pfizer/BioNTech shots.
Laureen Neergaard reports for Associated Press that for health care workers who, along with nursing home residents, will be first in line for vaccination, hope is tempered by grief and the sheer exhaustion of months spent battling a coronavirus that still is surging in the US and around the world.
“This is mile 24 of a marathon. People are fatigued. But we also recognize that this end is in sight,” said Dr. Chris Dale of Swedish Health Services in Seattle.
Packed in dry ice to stay at ultra-frozen temperatures, the first of nearly 3 million doses being shipped in staggered batches this week made their way by truck and by plane around the country Sunday from Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Michigan, factory. Once they arrive at distribution centers, each state directs where the doses go next.
Some hospitals across the country spent the weekend tracking their packages, refreshing FedEx and UPS websites for clues.
More of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive each week. And later this week, the FDA will decide whether to green light a second Covid-19 vaccine, made by Moderna.
Now the hurdle is to rapidly get vaccine into the arms of millions, not just doctors and nurses but other at-risk health workers such as janitors and food handlers and then deliver a second dose three weeks later.
“We’re also in the middle of a surge, and it’s the holidays, and our health care workers have been working at an extraordinary pace,” said Sue Mashni, chief pharmacy officer at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. Plus, the shots can cause temporary fever, fatigue and aches as they rev up people’s immune systems, forcing hospitals to stagger employee vaccinations.
A wary public will be watching closely to see whether health workers embrace vaccination. Just half of Americans say they want to get vaccinated, while about a quarter don’t and the rest are unsure, according to a recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Health Research.
“Please people, when you look back in a year and you say to yourself, ‘Did I do the right thing?’ I hope you’ll be able to say, ‘Yes, because I looked at the evidence,”’ Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. “People are dying right now. How could you possibly say, ‘Let’s wait and see.”’