How Baton Rouge hospitals are preparing for coronavirus vaccine

Updated: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:44 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A COVID-19 vaccine is on its way, and hospitals in the capitol city are already getting their final preparations together.

The hard work has started, as medical officials get ready for something they’ve never had to do before.

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Ochsner’s medical director of infection prevention and control, Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, gave a full rundown on what people in Louisiana should expect from the vaccine. One of the biggest questions is when will it happen.

“All that allocation depends on the size of the state, the population that sort of thing, and then our state will get a certain amount,” Dr. Baumgarten said. “Our state will then decide based on these tiers and based on hospitals. Based on the tiers that we’ve set up where that vaccine is distributed.”

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So far, health care personnel will get the vaccine first, but hospitals still have to figure that out. Baton Rouge General (BRG) is already starting to decide who should get vaccinated first based on underlying conditions and what type of patients they take care of.

“So, I think it will take several allocations for us to be able to vaccinate our entire team first. Once we are able to vaccinate our entire team, then definitely the next thing for us, that mission is critical, is to be able to vaccinate our community members and our patients,” says Raneesha Ford who is the director of pharmacy services at BRG.

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BRG says that team members who recently had COVID-19 will not be a part of the first round of the vaccine.

There is also the big question of storage and how the vaccine will be properly secured.

“So definitely the ultra-storage cold freezer is a hot commodity right now, and so we have been fortunate in being able to procure an ultra-cold storage freezer that will allow us to house the Pfizer vaccine on sight. This will definitely ease operations and logistics related to the vaccine,” adds Ford.

Right now, BRG expects they will get the Pzifer vaccine first, but they hope they will the other ones too.

The governor has not released any specific plans on how the vaccine will be distributed across the state. Hospitals says they are expecting the vaccine mid-December or some time by the end of the month.

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