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Idaho's first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine delivered to health district, hospitals

The healthcare workers combatting the virus hands-on in emergency rooms and in intensive care units will be the first group to receive the vaccine.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Bio-n-Tech after the Federal Drug Administration recently authorized emergency use of the vaccine.

The state should have 13,650 doses of the vaccine by the end of the week, according to the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare. The vaccine was sent from distributors to the Eastern Idaho Public Health District (EIPH) and St. Luke's.

On Monday, St. Luke's held a phone call to discuss their plan for administering the vaccine to employees, as well as the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Infectious disease Dr. Sky Blue and Dr. Laura McGeorge hosted the call.

Healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be among the first group to receive the vaccine, according to Idaho's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee. 

St. Luke's plans to keep a tight schedule with their employees when it comes to administering the vaccines.

“The vaccines have to be kept very cold, so once you open a vial and mix that vial with saline, that vial has to be used within six hours," McGeorge said. "So we are scheduling down to the individual employee to make sure we are fully using each of those vials.”

The healthcare workers combatting the virus hands-on in emergency rooms and in intensive care units will be the first group to receive the vaccine.

“We are anticipating that we will get more vaccine in and as that comes available we will go on to our second, third, and then fourth-tiers for our employees," McGeorge said.

Those who receive the vaccine van expect soreness and swelling in their arm, according to Blue.

“We cannot say we know everything there is to know about this vaccine," she said. "The clinical trial participants are going to be monitored and observed for up to two years before the FDA is likely to entertain a full licensure of this vaccine.”

Given the current knowledge of the vaccine, McGeorge and Blue believe getting the shot is much safer than contracting COVID-19.

“Everyone who gets the vaccine is going to benefit from having that vaccine," McGeorge said. "I’m hoping and have good reason to hope that this will start to take some of the pressure off the hospitals and intensive care units across the state.”

Idaho's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee said essential workers will be the next highest priority after health care personnel.

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