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Hospital anticipates arrival of first COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday

December 14, 2020 – News

A shipment of 975 COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer Pharmaceutical is scheduled to arrive in Juneau on Tuesday, December 15.  Please note, between winter weather limitations and the fact that this is an unprecedented national initiative, the vaccine arrival could be delayed.

Five hundred vaccines will remain at the hospital as staff are vaccinated beginning this week. The remaining vaccines will be distributed to Emergency Medical Service first responders, medical clinics, and nursing home/elder care facilities.  Bartlett will be the distribution hub as it has the capacity and ability to store the vaccine at the required -70 degree temperature.

Bartlett Infection Preventionist Charlee Gribbon is heading up a team of staff to inoculate their colleagues. Gribbon is thrilled by the impending arrival of the Pfizer vaccine. “We want our whole community of Bartlett protected because that helps us be safe,” said Gribbon.

Logistics for this vaccine are more complicated than those for the annual flu vaccine. The vaccine comes in vials of 5 doses per vial, so the preparation to administration window is short. Bartlett pharmacy and infection prevention staff will closely monitor the process. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses per recipient, three weeks after the first dose. The second dose is being held by Pfizer and will be shipped later.

According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services: “As more COVID-19 vaccines become available, enrolled health providers will be able to administer vaccines to larger numbers of Alaskans throughout the state. Tribal health clinics, public health centers, and pharmacies will play key roles in vaccine administration. Pop-up drive-through sites and ‘points of dispensing’ locations will be organized as well, with the goal of making the vaccine easy to access for Alaskans who choose to get vaccinated.”

“Bartlett and Public Health are going to be busy vaccinating people for a long time,” said Gribbon.

Additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine and Alaska’s distribution plan may be found at Covidvax.Alaska.gov.