Chicago Frontline Health Care Workers Await COVID-19 Vaccine, Say It Couldn’t Come At A Better Time

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CHICAGO (CBS) — We are getting a better idea of when COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to frontline workers – and which workers will get the doses first.

As CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reported, workers at Chicago area hospitals were still bracing Sunday night for a post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID cases.

So this news couldn’t come at a better time.

“We’re just so optimistic that this might be the beginning of our ability to beat COVID-19,” said Dr. Suzanne Pham, medical director for the COVID-19 response team at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Uptown.

The fight against COVID-19 continues at Weiss. There, frontline health care workers continue the battle against the virus – which this week was named the leading cause of death in the United States.

COVID-19 is responsible for taking more than 14,000 lives so far this year in Illinois alone.

But only days from now, some may receive the best weapon yet for the virus battlefront.

“We are hopeful that we will start beginning to receive vaccines as early as December 13,” Pham said.

Pham said there are about 1,000 health care workers in her network, and about 650,000 in the state.

And she said the first wave of vaccine is only a drop in the COVID prevention bucket.

“We have been told that the initial rollout vaccine will be about 23,000 for the city of Chicago,” Pham said.

Speaking on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot emphasized that the Center Disease Control and Prevention makes the decision as to who will get the vaccine first. A recent vote by an advisory panel dictated that and health care workers should be first on a national level, along with long-term facility residents.

“We expect to get the first tranche of vaccines here in the next couple of weeks. That’s already predetermined to go to the frontline workers who are dealing directly with COVID patients,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “We expect to get around 23,000 doses. Now, that’s a fraction of what we will need. But we’ve been working with our hospital partners to identify those within their workforce who are going to be front of the queue to get the early doses of the vaccine.”

Pham added, “Priority will certainly be geared towards healthcare workers who work directly with our COVID-19 patients – our nurses, our respiratory therapists, our anesthesiologists, surgeons.”

In the first week, Pham is hopeful the hospital will receive enough doses to vaccinate half her staff, with the vaccine coming for the other half by mid-January.

It is believed that the Pfizer inoculations will be the first vaccines in Chicago. They require two doses spaced 21 days apart, and they must be stored at extremely cold temperatures.

But several local hospitals may not have that kind of refrigeration.

“What gives us some piece of mind that the city itself does have capacity in their ultra-cold refrigeration to be able to store the vaccine and distribute it to hospitals such as ours,” Pham said.

Is Pham confident the vaccine is safe, and will she be getting a shot yourself?

“I absolutely will be getting one myself, and it is going to be a safe vaccine to receive,” she said.

Based on the timeline, Pham believes the average person will have access to the vaccines sometime in the spring. For now, everyone must keep on wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands to keep the pressure off workers in hospitals.

Also From CBS Chicago:

via CBS Local

December 7, 2020 at 07:11AM

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