Preparations are underway as coronavirus vaccines head to Virginia

Roanoke, Va. – Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are expected to arrive in the commonwealth by the end of the month.

Sen. Tim Kaine is calling it a positive sign in this battle against the virus.

“To develop a vaccine from zero to deploying it widespread within about 15 months, that looks to be where will be. I mean, that’s just unheard of. That’s so positive,” Kaine said.

Dr. Cynthia Morrow said hospitals and potentially pharmacies working with long-term care facilities will receive the vaccines first.

VDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health, Dr. Laurie Forlano, said 2.6% of the nationwide vaccines will be allocated to Virginia.

“We’ve established a vaccine unit within VDH’s unified command,” Forlano said. “We also have some vaccine advisory groups which help consult and review data on safety, efficacy and operational decisions.”

Cities with larger populations will be the priority, but Morrow said small towns will not be forgotten.

“We need to ensure that people have equal access,” Morrow said. “And most of that is going to come in to make sure we have coordinated approaches and partnerships in place.”

Hospitals will need to have ultra-cold refrigeration systems to store these vaccines.

Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be chilled at a minimum of -94 degrees Fahrenheit, while Moderna requires at least 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Most of us are working on making sure that we can maintain that cold chain, that’s going to be really important for the integrity of that vaccine,” Morrow said.

Morrow said they are also planning to set up physical locations and are acquiring vaccinators.

The state needs to finalize its distribution plan and submit it to the federal government by Friday.

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