As FDA Authorizes Pfizer Vaccine, Dignity Health Holds Mass Vaccination Dry Run

By Scott Bourque
Published: Saturday, December 12, 2020 - 7:27pm

The FDA officially authorized the coronavirus vaccine produced by drugmaker Pfizer for emergency use in the United States Friday.

The first Arizonans could receive the vaccines as soon as this upcoming week. Dignity Health conducted a mass-vaccination dry-run at Chandler Gilbert Community College to simulate how they’d inoculate a large group of people in a short period of time. 

Dignity Health’s director of nursing Heather James said these dry runs will make the actual process smoother when the time comes - nurses will know exactly where to stand, and those directing traffic know exactly where to send people. 

“We practiced some of the scenarios that we thought might happen ... a stalled car, oversized vehicles, and how we get to a driver in order to vaccinate them," James said. "We also worked on some of our traffic patterns, so to speak. Traffic patterns are something we reference for where we walk as healthcare workers in a tight space like that, not necessarily the vehicles coming through.”

Similar to the flu shot, people receiving the vaccine will be told to remain on site for several minutes so healthcare workers can monitor them for any allergic reactions.

Arizona will receive about 384,000 vaccine doses by the end of December, but the first doses will be arriving within the next few days.

"Next week's allocation will include both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines," Arizona Department of Health Services director Dr. Cara Christ said in a press conference. "During this week, every county will receive does of vaccine."

Dr. Cara Christ
Austin Fast/KJZZ
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, announces COVID-19 vaccines should be available for high-priority health care workers in Maricopa and Pima counties the week of Dec. 14 at a news conference Dec. 11, 2020.

The first batch should arrive early-to-mid next week, with the first doses being administered to healthcare workers and at-risk long-term care residents by the end of the week.

"These doses have been prioritized for healthcare workers in Maricopa County and Pima County," Christ said. "Approximately 47,000 doses will be going to Maricopa County, and approximately 11,000 doses will be going to Pima county."

Lower priority groups, including essential workers and adults over 65, will likely see doses early next year. While the state distributes vaccine doses to the highest priority groups, James says Dignity Health will focus on preparing for wide-scale vaccination events that will eventually happen later in 2021.

"We'll do some tabletop corrections and process documentation so that we have a reference," James said. "At this point, we're ready to roll."

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