The University of Virginia Medical Center expects to receive its first shipment of Pfizer’s newly approved COVID-19 vaccine around noon Tuesday.
Medical Center officials say they will begin vaccinating healthcare workers immediately that afternoon.
The vaccine received its emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepted an advisory recommendation that the vaccine may be given to people 16 and over Sunday; and shipments went out to all 50 states Monday.
This first round is available only to hospital workers and individuals in long-term care facilities.
There are nearly 3,000 doses in the shipment bound for UVA, according to a Medical Center spokesman. That’s not enough to vaccinate the entire workforce, so those doses are reserved for some healthcare workers who treat or are otherwise in direct contact with COVID-19 patients in the emergency department and in the hospital’s critical care unit.
The Medical Center expects to receive additional shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine “within the next month,” said Eric Swensen, a spokesman for the hospital.
“We might receive shipments of other vaccines as well if additional vaccines receive federal approval,” Swensen said in an email. Moderna has a vaccine that may soon receive authorization, and several other companies have vaccines nearing the end of their clinical trials.
The hospital plans a tiered approach to distributing vaccines. Workers who are in contact with COVID-19 patients will have first access, followed by people who must enter hospital buildings but don’t necessarily interact with COVID-19 patients, and then followed by everyone else.
Local long-term care facilities will receive vaccines from pharmacies, according to the Thomas Jefferson Health District. It’s unclear when that may happen.
Once hospital workers and long term care residents are vaccinated, Virginia will give essential workers, medically high-risk and people over 65 access, the so-called “phase two” of the vaccine’s distribution.
As of Thursday, the Thomas Jefferson Health District had not yet finalized its plans for phase two, said Kathryn Goodman, a spokeswoman for the district.
After everyone in the phase two group (who wants it) gets the vaccine, it will become widely available to everyone else.
The timeline for distribution is yet unclear, though local health officials say mass vaccination efforts likely will not begin until spring.