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YNHH, New Haven Officials Preparing for Vaccine Arrivals

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Two thousand doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are on the way to Yale New Haven Health from Michigan.

The hospital system’s chief clinical officer Dr. Thomas Balcezak said a FedEx tracker shows the shipment will arrive Tuesday and staff will begin vaccinations Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We believe we’re well on our way towards getting all of our staff and medical staff vaccinated in the next seven weeks,” said Balcezak.

They’ve prioritized the 2,000 doses for those who come in contact with COVID-19 frequently, focusing on units, not titles.

“So if you work in the ER and you’re a registration person or a patient care technician or environmental services worker or a nurse or doctor… we’re not distinguishing between different classes within a work area,” said Balcezak.

It won’t be mandatory for staff, but he said they’ve surveyed 4,000 people and 80% say they’re willing to get the vaccine.

Given the work by Yale New Haven Health and the university on developing the vaccine, Balcezak said having it available is a great moment.

“I think this is an incredibly bright spot in what has been a very dark nine months,” said Balcezak.

He warns we’re not out of the woods yet.

The state needs 3.5 million people vaccinated to reach “herd immunity,” which he said could happen by late spring. Until then, we should continue following masking guidelines, hand hygiene and social distancing.

In New Haven, city officials are preparing to have the Pfizer vaccine for first responders, with larger mass vaccination plans designed around Moderna’s vaccine approval. An FDA review is scheduled for Thursday.

“We will be able to have a shelf life [for Pfizer] up to five days with the dry ice, so our main distribution will be the Moderna vaccine,” said City Health Director Maritza Bond.

The Moderna vaccine could be more favorable to cities and towns because it can last 30 days at regular refrigeration temperatures and 12 hours at room temperature.

“The preliminary conversations that we’re having with the state is averaging about one hundred doses per day,” said Bond.

It’s an estimate that could change based on how many they get. Bond says she anticipates learning on Wednesday how many vaccines the city will have. In phase 1a the vaccines will go to first responders, healthcare workers and high-risk populations.

“Our plan consists of a number of ways to execute,” said Bond. “We will be providing vaccines right at our 54 Meadow Street where our clinic site is.”

She adds there’s another option in the plan for pop-up vaccine sites, similar to COVID-19 test sites across the city.

Mayor Justin Elicker said he’s concerned about people opting not to take it but says there are signs those numbers may be small.

“There are enough people now that are very open and interested in getting the vaccine, that over time more and more people will get the vaccine,” said Elicker. “And that will increase the comfort level of those that still feel some understandable apprehension.”

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