Shreveport medical centers prepare for arrival of COVID-19 vaccine

INSIDE LOOK: How 2 Shreveport hospitals will store COVID-19 vaccines

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Anticipation is building here in the U.S. after Britain became the first country in the world to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine. Now the public wants to know when we could see the vaccine here at home.

The short answer: It could be mid-December.

The Food and Drug Administration will consider emergency use of the vaccine at a meeting Dec. 10.

The vaccine was developed by Pfizer, first reported last week, and you may recall it requires ultra cold storage.

Plans are already underway for the arrival of the vaccine at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport and Willis-Knighton Health System.

In the fight against the novel coronavirus, the state of Louisiana is responsible for delivering these first vaccine doses to their intended destinations. Once there comes the first big challenge: The Pfizer vaccine must be stored in ultra cold conditions.

Inside Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport’s pharmacy, Assistant Vice President Jason Lafitte showed us where the first batches of COVID-19 vaccine will be stored.

“If this ever jumps out of range, too hot or too cold, we know it in seconds and can act upon that,” said Lafitte.

As head of the pharmacy, he knows the first batch of vaccines may be coming in about two weeks; and not far behind is expected to be Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Lafitte tried to put the importance of this new chapter in context in the fight against the deadly virus.

“That’s monumental. I mean, this is like the biggest thing of my career, right. Something that’s touched so many lives and changed so many lives on a day to day basis, that now, so quickly has a vaccination, immunization, you know, that’s capable of, you know, reducing a lot of the tragedy around, a lot of the fear, and really just a monumental kind of big, once in a career type opportunity,” said Lafitte.

Willis-Knighton Health System says it is eagerly anticipating delivery of the Pfizer vaccine.

In fact, pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Joseph Bocchini says they already have ultra cold storage in place.

“We hope this is the beginning of the end. But the real beginning is going to be based on how many people accept and are given this vaccine,” said Bocchini.

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