AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The first 975 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Amarillo today.
A team of doctors from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, BSA, and Northwest Texas, have been meeting about this day for a couple of weeks now, making frequent changes to adjust to the fluid situation.
They have been doing test runs and watching tutorial videos released by Pfizer, the company which made the vaccine, about how to transfer it.
The process only allows for three minutes before the vaccine could potentially become faulty.
“Once you open that box, we have to turn off the GPS and temperature regulator guide at the top, and there are a few other layer of stuff that you kinda have to uncover,” said Dr. Eric MacLaughlin, chair of the department of pharmacy practice at TTUHSC Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy “So we did have a clock, we had someone with a stop watch, and had 30 seconds left at the end of it.”
Even after all the planning, it took seven people to get the vials into the freezers on time.
Although he says Amarillo was fortunate to have the freezer capability through Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, before all this could happen, they had to certify the equipment to ensure they could keep the vaccine at the proper temperature.
The freezers have a system integrated that will immediately alert them if there are any changes to the temperature.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is only storing the 975 doses that will be split among Northwest Texas and BSA, as that was the only way they could receive it now, without having to wait to order and certify their own equipment.
It worked out for both hospitals which picked up several hundred doses and began administering the vaccine today.
“Based on what their expected clinic administration was looking like, they had employees sign up and they are expecting three or four hundred individuals to come through,” said MacLaughlin “Obviously, we got to sequence this and make sure we have enough vaccine and of course make sure no vaccine goes to waste.”
He adds although receiving the vaccine feels like a light at the end of the tunnel; we are far from the level of vaccinations needed to stop following the guidelines put in place during the past nine months. For now, those continue to be necessary.