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Cone Health expects to vaccinate 250 employees a day after first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrives Thursday

Cone Health Director of Pharmacy Andre Harvin said they expect to complete first-round vaccinations for the first shipment in under a month.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Editor's note: The video above is an update of COVID-19 data in North Carolina from Dec. 14, 2020.

As COVID-19 shipments start arriving at Triad hospitals, health care providers are rolling out the plans they've been working on for months. 

Wake Forest Baptist Health received its first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which arrived with nearly 3,000 doses Monday morning. 

Cone Health expects its first shipment of anywhere from 5,500-5,800 doses Thursday.

Cone Health Director of Pharmacy and Oncology Services Andre Harvin said they plan to start vaccinating employees as early as Friday. 

"We want to focus on our employees that are really there on the frontline that have the highest risk potential. But luckily we actually got a pretty good number of doses where really all of our employees that are interested in getting this round of vaccines are going to be able to get it," Harvin said. 

He said the health care provider surveyed employees to determine their willingness to take the vaccine. 

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"We got a lot of great responses back," he said, "Essentially, all of our frontline workers that are dealing directly with our COVID patients and a large portion of all our other employees will be able to get that vaccine."

Hospitals around the Triad have been working on securing storage units and preliminary plans for months. 

High Point University loaned Cone Health an ultra-low temperature freezer. Harvin said they also discovered freezers at labs they'll be able to use as well.

"We did learn that we were able to get a few other of those subzero freezers that our labs had on different campuses so we do have some options just in case but we have one specific one that we have identified that fits all the qualifications that can actually fit all the doses as well," Harvin said. 

Harvin said they figured out they'll be able to vaccinate 250 employees each day, completing the first round of doses they receive in the first shipment in a little under one month. 

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"We're going to start at Moses Cone, which is our largest facility, but we’ll ensure that we’re also on-site at Alamance Regional and Annie Penn as well, and then we’ll look at additional areas where we can expand those clinics and reach all of our employees," he said.

While it's important to get the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 21 days after the first dose, Harvin said they're still working through the information on when the next shipment of vaccines will come after Thursday's shipment. 

"As we administer the vaccine, there is a lot of information that we actually have to provide DHHS, so this is something that has to be coordinated not only by Cone Health or any individual health system in North Carolina, but it’s actually coordinated at the state level," Harvin said.

The vaccine being delivered to hospitals for health care workers, and in a few month's time, available for more of the public is a light at the end of a dark tunnel, but Harvin said it's important to stay vigilant with the 3 W's. 

"We still want to make sure that we don’t take our foot off the gas and automatically feel as though, now, that the vaccine has arrived we can essentially throw out the window. This is still something we’re in the midst of," Harvin said. 

Harvin also urged people to talk with a medical professional and check out reliable websites when seeking information about the vaccine. 

"There’s going to be a lot of misinformation out there in communities. We're fighting a war on both fronts, both the virus and misinformation that’s going have a lot of communities decide that they don’t want to get the vaccine because they read something on Facebook or some friend told them," Harvin said. "What I tell everyone is to make sure that you really look at the facts. Look at the CDC, look at the FDA website, ask a healthcare professional, someone that is actually practicing, their thoughts around the vaccine."

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