Health

Kentucky hospitals have announced how they’ll allocate Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available later this month.

At Thursday’s briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear said about 38,000 doses will be dispersed throughout Kentucky as part of the first shipment. Two-thirds of the shipment will go to long-term care facilities, and the other 12,675 doses will be divided between 11 hospitals for frontline workers.

Norton Healthcare and University of Kentucky HealthCare are the only two hospitals that will receive two pallets of the vaccine, totaling 1,950 doses each. Each held press conferences Friday to discuss how the vaccine will be stored and which employees will be included in the first round.

Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius. Each hospital had to be capable of handling the low temperatures to qualify for the first batch.

Dr. Joseph Flynn Chief Administrative Officer at Norton Medical Group and Physician-in-Chief at Norton Cancer said all types of employees will be considered for the vaccine, not just doctors and nurses.

“We want everyone involved in those areas to have equal access to the vaccine,” Flynn said. “It may be an environmental service person. It may be a food care worker. We are looking at those holistically based on your vulnerability from the types of patients that are predominantly there and your chance of having extended exposure to patients with COVID-19.”

Flynn expects the first shipment to arrive after Dec. 10. Booster shots, which will require an additional 1,950 doses, will be delivered about three weeks later, he said.

On Thursday, UK HealthCare received a mock shipment to test its process.

“Our ongoing coordination with the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the CDC is critical as Kentucky prepares to start administering the first COVID-19 immunization shots,” said UK HealthCare Chief Pharmacist Philip Almeter in a statement. “This exercise will help to ensure an efficient vaccine distribution as soon as possible after a vaccine receives regulatory approval.”

University of Louisville Hospital will get 975 doses of the vaccine. On Thursday, it also held a briefing to discuss its distribution process and show where the vaccine will be stored.

Dr. Jason Smith said thousands of employees from all levels are exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis.

“To have an opportunity to get the vaccine so that they’re not taking this home to their families I think is an immense step into trying to get back to some normalcy,” Smith said.

Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Pikeville Medical Center, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Edgewood and the Medical Center at Bowling Green will receive 975 doses each. Four Baptist Health sites – Madisonville, Louisville, Corbin and Lexington – are also getting that amount.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.