Community Hospital, a part of Community Healthcare System based in Northwest Indiana, is ready and waiting receipt of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccines once Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Upon arrival of this first shipment, priority will be given to frontline healthcare workers, those who work directly with patient care including physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical, occupational and speech therapists, pharmacists, imaging technologists, laboratory technicians, social services workers, environmental services staff, case management, non-traditional providers such as doulas and midwives, pastoral care staff, dental providers and emergency medical services.
Through this first phase, Community Hospital will be responsible for vaccinating not only their internal staff, but also healthcare personnel in Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties as well.
“As a leading provider of care for our communities in Northwest Indiana, Community Healthcare System is honored to be a distribution center for the vaccine,” said Alan Kumar, MD, chief medical officer. “We have the resources and storage capability to handle all the different vaccine types that will be released in the next few months and the operational capability to vaccinate a large number of people.”
Community Hospital was chosen as a pilot site based on its ability to store the first doses from Pfizer at ultra-cold temperatures reaching -60 to -80 degrees Celsius.
The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses 21 days apart. It is expected that all Phase 1A locations including Community Hospital, Munster, will provide both the first and second doses to each individual. Both the Pfizer vaccine (21 days) and the Moderna vaccine (28 days) (which also has applied for an Emergency Authorization Use) require a second dose. The second dose is imperative for the appropriate immune response with expected immunity within 7 days of the second dose. Those receiving the vaccine will be signing up for their second dose immediately following their initial vaccination.
To begin distribution of the vaccine, Community Hospital has established a vaccination clinic which will be open Monday through Friday, to healthcare workers by appointment only.
“We have set up a vaccination clinic at the hospital’s main campus and have plans to offer more sites in the area once our supply of vaccines increases,” said Kumar.
At this time, Phase 1A is expected to last at least through January, depending upon how much vaccine is received and timing of the other coronavirus vaccines (such as Moderna) becoming available.
“We are in constant contact with the State in reviewing the rapidly evolving policies and processes as more information is released,” said Kumar. “The goal is to protect those with the most risk of exposure, prevent them from giving it to vulnerable populations, and to reinforce our healthcare workforce by preventing illness.”
Phase 1B of the distribution plan includes high risk populations including people who are at particular risk of morbidity and mortality to COVID-19 (those 65 years of age and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying conditions i.e. cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes.
Phase 2 includes individuals who are at elevated risk of transmission because of working or living conditions: those living in correctional facilities, group homes or shelters and people whose in-person work is essential or required.
Vaccinations for the general public will be determined at a date in the future and that distribution will be divided up into phases as well. Phase 3A continues distribution to the general public through their local hospital or primary care provider’s office. Phase 3B expands distribution to local health departments and commercial pharmacies which is anticipated at this point to take place beginning in June, 2021.
For more information about the hospitals of Community Healthcare System including Community Hospital, Munster, St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago, St. Mary Medical Center, Hobart and specialty hospital Community Stroke & Rehabilitation Center, Crown Point, visit COMHS.org.