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CHI Health receives first doses of COVID-19 vaccine; Grand Island's share expected Tuesday

CHI Health receives first doses of COVID-19 vaccine; Grand Island's share expected Tuesday

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Carrie Essink gives Julie Nichols a shot — either a dose of an experimental vaccine or a placebo — as part of a clinical trial at Meridian Clinical Research in Omaha.

CHI Health has received its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and expects it to arrive at CHI Health St. Francis on Tuesday.

Michael Tiesi, CHI Health Vice President of Pharmacy, said the first shipment of the vaccine arrived at 6:30 a.m. Monday at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy in Omaha. He said during a Zoom conference Monday morning the hospital received four pizza box-sized containers, with 975 doses per container.

“This is really an incredible moment in medical history — at least in my mind,” Tiesi said. “I was able to touch one of the COVID-19 vaccine vials as we were moving it from the ultra low freezer into the refrigerator so we can start the preparation process for letting it thaw and (ready) for vaccination in the next several days.

“It is hope in a bottle. It is an early Christmas present for all of us who have been dealing with the COVID pandemic ever since it started.”

Related: COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Nebraska, but it could be a while before cases fall, Ricketts says

Tiesi said CHI Health expected the vaccines to be delivered to other CHI Health facilities, including Good Samaritan in Kearney, later in the day Monday or on Tuesday. According to a CHI Health news release, the first five frontline health care workers received the vaccine at 3 p.m. Monday at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy.

Taylor Barth, a public relations strategist for CHI Health, said the hospital system is working on the plans for when it will start giving vaccinations, but that it expects to start administering them sometime later this week.

Tiesi said CHI Health plans to “stagger the dose” and give the vaccine first to frontline health care workers.

“We are working with our incident command at each campus to identify the folks that are interested in receiving the vaccine,” he said. “It is an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) and therefore it is not required for folks to take this; it is optional. So if they wish to, they can do so; I would highly recommend that.”

Tiesi said the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is not accounted for in the first shipment CHI Health received.

“We have been instructed to give everything we have right now and not to hold back any vaccine for the second dose, which is approximately 21 days after the initial dose,” he said.

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