With a coronavirus vaccine potentially getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration as soon as this week, city and state health officials are continuing to fine-tune their plans for administration of the treatment.
Pfizer’s vaccine against the virus could potentially be approved for emergency use by the FDA after a hearing on Thursday, and if that vaccine is approved, Chicago could roll out its first doses of the treatment by next week.
The city is preparing to receive 23,000 doses in its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, while the state of Illinois is hoping to get more than 100,000 doses total of the treatment.
Dr. Atul Gupta, the medical director of infection prevention at New Lenox’s Silver Cross Hospital, expects to be vaccinated next week as part of the first wave of vaccinations, and his staff is continuing to implement plans.
“We’re getting a certain amount next week, but we can expect weekly shipments of vaccine,” Gupta said. “So while everyone on the front lines won’t be vaccinated right away, they’re hoping they will be in the next few weeks.”
Staff are not only having to deal with the procedures of getting the vaccine themselves, but with the concerns of patients who have questions about how quickly the vaccine was developed.
“What I’ve been telling them right now is the most important message we can give to patients is that the vaccine’s development was not rushed,” Gupta said.
Dr. Gregory Huhn, the COVID-19 vaccine coordinator of Cook County Health, says that the department has cut no corners at all in its preparation, and they feel confident in the processes used by the drugmakers that have formulated the treatments.
“The misconception is that it isn’t going to be safe, or whether it can give someone the disease,” he said. “It will not give you the disease, not the way that these vaccines were formulated.”
City officials in Chicago say healthcare workers who treat COVID patients, residents in long-term care facilities, and essential workers, will be among the first people to get the treatment. Those with underlying medical conditions and those who are over the age of 65 will also be among the first in line.