ChristianaCare President & CEO Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH, today issued the following statement about the expected approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine and its arrival in our community:
The first COVID-19 vaccine is expected to receive emergency use authorization from the Food & Drug Administration and begin arriving in our community within the next week. For all of us at ChristianaCare who have been serving our community throughout this pandemic, this is a turning point that we have been waiting for. We still have many months ahead of us before we emerge from the pandemic, but the path forward is becoming clearer.
We have been preparing for a vaccine for months. We have 10 freezers ready now at Christiana Hospital for vaccine storage and expect to receive additional ones in the coming weeks. We are partnering closely with state and federal health agencies and will follow their guidance on safely administering the vaccine to our caregivers and our community.
We anticipate receiving a very limited supply of vaccine at first. According to plans set forth by the federal and state governments, the initial supply of the vaccine will be designated for health care workers, first responders and vulnerable populations such as people in long-term care facilities. Vaccines will gradually become more available over the coming months, eventually to the general public in spring or summer 2021.
At ChristianaCare, our first priority will be to offer the vaccine to our caregivers who work in patient care and supporting roles. We are still finalizing these criteria. Over the coming months, as more supply arrives, we anticipate offering the vaccine to all of our caregivers. We will not require anyone to get vaccinated, but we will encourage our caregivers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
We recognize that the speed at which the vaccine has been approved has raised questions about its safety. Our experts have been following the data and the science throughout the approval process, and we are confident that the approved vaccine will be safe and effective. The Pfizer vaccine, which is the first that is expected to receive emergency use authorization, has already been tested with tens of thousands of people who volunteered for large-scale clinical trials.
We will follow the FDA guidelines to ensure that we only vaccinate individuals for whom the vaccine has been determined to be safe.
We thank our caregivers for their continued compassion, dedication and service to our patients and our community throughout this pandemic. We ask everyone in the community to take the simple steps needed to reduce the spread of the virus: continue to wear a mask, stay physically distant, wash hands frequently and avoid gatherings large and small.
Learn more about the vaccine and the vaccine approval process. Follow ChristianaCare on social media for frequent updates.