Employees at Loretto Hospital on Chicago's West Side are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, the second vaccine approved in the U.S. to fight the coronavirus.
"We see the vaccine as a glimmer of hope," said Dr. Afya Khna, who serves as the hospital's director of infection control.
The latest vaccine, which was cleared by the FDA on Friday, comes at a time when hospitals across the country continue to see a rise in case numbers.
"We're having a thousand deaths each day, and we're expecting to see that rise especially during the holidays," Khan said. "So the release of having two vaccines, we really hope to break the curve and increase the herd immunity among our patients."
On Sunday, U.S. Marshals escorted the first vials of the Moderna vaccine from a Mississippi warehouse to the FedEx Corporate Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee where the vials will be distributed. The first vials will head to 4,000 destinations nationwide.
Unlike Pfizer's vaccine, Moderna's does not have to be kept in ultra-cold storage.
"There is an advantage," Khan said. "...Definitely the storage. We see that Moderna vaccines will definitely help our rural hospitals as well as our outpatient clinics."
At first, only 40% of the staff at Loretto Hospital said they would receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Khan said, but that number increased after the hospital put on question and answer sessions.
The doctor added many staff members have recently expressed their feelings about the vaccine to their patients.
"We are getting a lot of good feedback, and we really hope to get this communication within our hospital internally with our patients as well as the rest of our community," Khan said.
The doctor expects shipments of the vaccine to arrive in Chicago Sunday night, and anticipates receiving doses at Loretto Hospital sometime during the next week.