The U.S. gave the final approval Friday to the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine, marking what could be the beginning of the end of an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans, according to a person familiar with the decision but not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Shots for health workers and nursing home residents are expected to begin in the coming days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized an emergency rollout of what promises to be a strongly protective vaccine from Pfizer.
“We did an internal survey, and 70 percent of our employees ... are willing to get vaccinated,” pharmacist Tejal Patel said.
The University of Chicago is expecting Wednesday, Dec. 16, to be the day it begins vaccinating staffers.
In Munster, Indiana, Community Hospital is designated by the state of Indiana as one of the first regional hospitals for northwest Indiana to begin the vaccination process within 24 hours of approval.
“We’ve done internal surveys of our entire health care population, and that’s about 10,000 employees across the health care system," Dr. Alan Kumar said. "And I will say that the mood has shifted. There were more people that did not want the vaccine than did want the vaccine early on. Further checking, we’re finding that mood is shifting: more people wanting the vaccine as data become available.”
Even after vaccinations begin, masks and social distancing will be needed for some time.
"The data surrounding whether the vaccine doesn’t let you get the virus, that’s great, but it doesn’t tell you whether you can still spread the virus," Kumar said. "We don't have answers on those types of questions.”
Illinois' public health director said Friday all of the state's 10 "regional hub" hospitals will receive doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to distribute in week one.
Last week, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the initial delivery of vaccines would be distributed among the 50 counties with the highest death rates per capita.
The governor's announcement left in doubt the eligibility of staff at three hub hospitals not among the top 50 hardest hit.
Illinois’ first vaccine shipment should be 109,000 doses, enough for 54,500 people because the Pfizer product requires two shots three weeks apart.
Chicago will receive 23,000 doses and 86,000 will be distributed around the rest of the state.
Pfizer is storing its initial doses in two neighboring states: specifically in the cities of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Using strategic transportation with FedEx and UPS, Pfizer intends on shipping by air to major hubs within a region. Grand transportation will then be used to take the shipments to dosing locations.