By Robbie Owens

(CBSDFW.COM) – With Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine frozen, packed and now approved for emergency use, the planning at North Texas hospitals to receive it has been both a marathon and a sprint.

“I’m on call for when it gets delivered,” said Jon Albrecht, chief pharmacy officer for Methodist Health System. “Our preparations probably started back in March. We bought an ultra-cold freezer –18 cubic feet — in anticipation of the release of the vaccine.”

Now, Albrecht says staffers are trained and ready to administer.

“Let’s say for example, we have a clinic starting at 8 am. I’ll need to pull that out [of freezer ] three to four hours prior to that and put it into the refrigerator,” Albrecht explained. “And then it’ll sit at room temperature for a little bit to warm up to room temperature, and the nurse can’t shake it because it breaks the molecule. They’ll have to roll it in their hands. And that’ll warm it up as well and bring it up to body temperature, room temperature.”

So, no. No sub-zero temperature shots. Just an eagerness across the healthcare community for a vaccine that will save lives and make their jobs safer.

“The logistics here are going to be complex,” says Dr. Joseph Chang, Parkland’s chief medical officer. “But, we’re really excited about it.”

Hospital leaders say they plan to first immunize those involved in direct patient care — and that’s not limited to doctors.

“Those include nurses, physicians, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, environmental services,” said Albrecht, “workers who clean the rooms, facilities workers that fix beds, and unplug toilets. All of them are on our tier one list. So anyone that’s coming in direct contact with those patients.”

Local health experts are also stressing how much they trust the science — and the process.

“I personally know a couple folks on these review boards,” said Dr. Chang. “They take safety of the treatment, more seriously than they take the effectiveness of the treatment. I’m getting my vaccine I’ll get it happily. I told people I would knock people over if I wasn’t the first one. That’s kind of a joke, but I really want it.”

And he’s not alone. Local hospitals say they have practiced and prepared. And now they wait.

“Yep. And then the fire drill starts,” said Albrecht. “The bell rings and we start running!”

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