Boston Medical Center (BMC) in the South End received its first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 vaccine on Monday morning, taking it into cold storage immediately and preparing to vaccinate front-line medical workers on Wednesday.
BMC said it received 1,950 doses Monday morning and would equitably disperse them throughout the front-line workers at the hospital.
“This morning, Boston Medical Center received 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 vaccine,” read a statement. “Beginning Wednesday, we will begin the first wave of vaccinations to front line health care workers, a group including doctors and nurses from our ICU and Emergency Department and patient floors that treat COVID-19 patients, but just as importantly, employees from environmental and support services, and other crucial positions that work in COVID-positive patient areas.”
The doses were put into a freezer at the BMC inpatient pharmacy.
Mass General Hospital (MGH) indicated on Monday afternoon they would be getting dosages on Tuesday, and would also immunize their front-line workers on Wednesday also.
In an historic press conference on Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Dr. Moncef Slaoui and General Gustave Perna – all members of the Operation Warp Speed vaccine team – reported on the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine.
The reported that 2.9 million doses of the vaccine had been shipped and another 2.9 million would be held back for the second booster dose that will be given to those inoculated in 21 to 28 days. The Pfizer vaccine requires an initial shot and a second booster for full immunity, they said.
Those shipments would continue through Tuesday, and Wednesday and the rest of the week likely, Perna said. He said they have used a public/private partnership with the federal government, UPS and FedEx to distribute the doses, and now are entering into a “steady drumbeat” of constant shipments as the days and weeks go on.
“The point here is the initial push that we have shows we can execute,” he said. “Now we’re starting our drumbeat of continuous shipments of vaccine.”
All vaccine shipments destinations and dosage amounts are determined by each state’s governor, they said. For Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker issues an initial priority list last week that is now being followed in the first dosages. There were 636 sites across the United States identified to Operation Warp Speed, with 145 getting shipments on Monday.
There were 425 that would receive shipments on Tuesday, and 66 on Wednesday.
All expected the Moderna vaccine, also a two-shot program, to get emergency use authorization by the weekend, and that would start to be shipped out by next Monday, Dec. 21. There would be approximately 100 million doses of that vaccine available initially as there has been more time to manufacture in the run-up to authorization.
They expected to be able to vaccinate 100 million people by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.
Meanwhile, Azar said they are confident they will have enough vaccine for anyone that wants it and that no American would have to pay for the vaccine if they want it.
“No American faces an out of pocket expense for this vaccine,” Azar said.
The Centers for Disease Control has authorized $140 million to pay for long-term planning for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Operation Warp Speed is paying for the vaccine cost and all of the supplies, including syringes and other materials.