Medical facilities prepare for COVID-19 vaccine

NOW: Medical facilities prepare for COVID-19 vaccine

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee VA Medical Center announced Friday, Dec. 11, that it would be receiving initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

"The Milwaukee VA's been planning for the past couple of months to be ready for it as soon as the vaccine was released," said Kim Bell, chief of pharmacy at the Milwaukee VA. 

Bell says that includes preparing areas for storing the vaccine. 

"Which has included bringing in a freezer so that we have the ability to store either of the vaccines as they are approved," she said. 

She says she expects shipment to happen fairly quickly once authorization is approved by the FDA. 

"There's been a lot of work as far as learning about the vaccine. How does the vaccine work? Who are we going to be administering to? So we're still waiting to hear from the CDC as far as those exact groups we'll be targeting," Bell said. "How we educate all of our employees and our veterans about the new vaccine and the benefits to receiving the vaccine, and then of course scheduling everybody to come in for clinics once we do have the vaccine in stock."

"We will have our ultracold freezers and the pharmacy has protocols and processes in place for that. Currently we're working through the specific educational training for our staff who are going to be preparing and administering the vaccine," said Dr. Matt Anderson, senior medical director for primary health at UW Health. 

He says they're working through identifying the people who will be receiving the first invitations for the vaccine and scheduling logistics. 

"The people who will be offered first are those with the highest risk of exposure, so those are our ICU teams, emergency department, anesthesia, people who are taking care of inpatients with COVID-19, those sorts of groups will be first on the list," he said. 

He says while there's a lot of excitement, there's still a lot of work today. 

"So, we won't be twiddling our thumbs waiting around, so we've got a lot of actions to take and information we're still gathering on that," he said. 

Anderson added while there's excitement, it's important to be patient as well. 

"We know that the broader population is gonna be a number of months before that's widely available, so appreciate everybody doing what they can here during the winter to continue to make the right decisions that will keep people well."

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