With the FDA panel’s green light of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, hospitals across North Texas and the rest of the country are preparing for the first round of vaccines.
It is expected to arrive at eight Tarrant County hospitals next week, County Judge Glen Whitley said this week. In a statement issued this week, Medical City Healthcare officials called the approved endorsement from the FDA panel a “positive step toward controlling this global pandemic”.
“When we receive the vaccine, Medical City Healthcare will first offer it to our healthcare worker colleagues, according to the federal prioritization guidelines,” the statement read in part. “While colleagues will not be required to be vaccinated, our infectious disease experts, as well as those at the CDC, are strongly encouraging vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from COVID-19.”
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The statement added, the hospital system’s clinical and emergency operations teams have developed a plan which includes storage and a vaccination administration process. They are working closely with the state on distribution timing, hospital officials said.
Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, former Acting U.S. Surgeon General, is now with the University of North Texas Health Science in Fort Worth serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. The development of the vaccine has ‘truly been historic’, Dr. Trent-Adams said.
“As many of my former HHS colleagues have indicated, this is a new technology using mRNA to develop this vaccine. It’s given us a lot of scientific advantages and being able to develop the vaccine at a much faster pace,” Trent-Adams told NBC 5 Friday. “I would caution everyone that this is not skipping anything over in the process. This is just using new technology to develop a more targeted vaccine and using the mRNA technology allows us to have a vaccine in a shorter period of time.”
The federal guidelines on priority distribution places frontline and healthcare workers at the top of the list followed by high-risk populations such as nursing homes, according to Trent-Adams.
“That is exactly what is happening in the state of Texas. Every state will develop its own plan, but that is the guidance that each state is taking from the federal government,” she added.
While the FDA is not obligated to follow the panel's recommendation, but it is widely expected to authorize the vaccine for emergency use promptly. For the time being, Trent-Adams said the general public needs to continue taking precautions.
“We need to wear our masks. We need to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings to the extent that we can. We cannot take our eye off the goal, which is to eradicate COVID,” she told NBC 5.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Medical City Healthcare.
“Until a vaccine is available for everyone who wants it, it is vital that the community continue to protect themselves and their loved ones with the scientifically proven safety measures of wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and socially distancing. Only by continuing to remain vigilant will we be able to save more lives for a healthier tomorrow,” a statement read.
Officials at John Peter Smith Hospital confirmed this week, they will also receive the vaccine despite not being listed on the Texas Department of State Health Service’s vaccine allocation list.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.