During a news conference Thursday, both Gov. Pete Ricketts and Gary Anthone, the state’s chief medical officer, said they believe the vaccine will be available before the end of the year, but Ricketts said he does not know how much the state will get at first.
The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at extremely cold temperatures of about minus 70 degrees Celsius, or about minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ravenscroft said Bryan is waiting on a shipment of additional protective gear that will allow staff to handle the vaccine when it comes out of the freezer.
It has to be thawed and given within one hour, so Ravenscroft said it’s likely vaccines will be given at the hospital campuses rather than in doctor’s offices.
Ricketts last month laid out the order in which people will be vaccinated, with health care providers and elderly and vulnerable residents getting first priority. It’s expected it will be spring at the earliest before the vaccine is available for widespread distribution to the public. Vaccinations are expected to be free to those who receive it, with the federal government covering the cost.
Ravenscroft said Bryan is just waiting on distribution and details about how many doses it will get and who they should go to.
The vaccine “cannot come soon enough,” said Ravenscroft, as he reported there were 121 patients with active COVID-19 infections at Bryan’s two hospital campuses Thursday morning. That’s eight more than on Wednesday and 17 more than on Monday. That number does not include 16 hospitalized patients who were awaiting results of a COVID-19 test and 10 who have had the illness, have since tested negative, but are still hospitalized.