COVID-19 vaccine could be difficult to store in Stateline, experts say

Tom Carey, Director of Pharmacy at SwedishAmerican Hospital, says vaccine could be in the area by the end of the calendar year.
Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 4:52 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 at 5:09 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Treatment options are available to try and combat COVID-19 in the sickest patients. However, nothing is proven to be a cure at this point in time.

Several pharmaceutical companies are working round the clock to develop a safe vaccine. One company is Pfizer, which announced on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90 percent effective based on initial trial results.

The news comes with excitement, but also more questions to a realistic timeline to distribute the vaccine safely.

Tom Carey, Director of Pharmacy at SwedishAmerican Hospital, spoke with 23 News Anchor Courtney Sisk to answer some of those questions that hang in the balance of the pandemic.

“It is good news, we are actually hoping initial doses could be distributed to this area before the end of the calendar year,” says Carey. “However that’s going to be limited supply and focused for just certain populations, which have yet to be determined.”

Carey says for the general public, he estimates vaccine distribution in late summer or early fall of 2021.

“The good news is they [Pfizer] already have a system in place, however it is the most unique system of distributing vaccines that we’ve seen to date," he explains.

Carey said hospitals will need to store the vaccine in a negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit environment, which poses several challenges.

“There are supplies that can maintain at that temperature, the challenge is most healthcare facilities don’t have that resource available to store that vaccine in large qualities for an extended amount of time," says Carey.

That is a topic of discussion at the three major healthcare systems in Winnebago county.

“The challenge will be how do we store that?" explains Carey. "Do we store it in one location and everyone goes to that location? On one hand that makes it easier to store the vaccine, on the other hand that creates a funnel where multiple people go at one point in time, so we try to avoid that as well.”

As far as safety goes, Carey believes this vaccine should be trusted as it maintains quality control. Several companies halted trials, which Carey says lets us know those regulations and protocols are being followed and enforced.

However, as with any vaccine, Carey says there will be side effects. Although he says with this particular vaccine they are mild.

Watch the full interview above.

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