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East Texas healthcare providers prepare for Pfizer vaccine distribution

East Texas healthcare providers are making plans to accommodate housing and distributing the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19.

TYLER, Texas — There are more than 18,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in East Texas and nearly 7,000 are active in the NET Health region as the virus continues to spread.

There’s hope though for the end of the coronavirus pandemic with the news of the Pfizer vaccine awaiting final authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The vaccine has been found to be 90% effective in a trial. Previously the FDA had announced a COVID-19 shot would have to be at least 50% effective to be approved. The seasonal flu shot has an effective rate of 60%.

U.S. officials say they’re prepared to distribute it as soon as the vaccine receives the green light, which could be by December.

NET Health is waiting to learn which freezers are recommended to store the vaccine, which needs to be kept at a temperature of about negative 70 degrees Celsius. The health department is also considering leasing a site to use, hiring specific personnel to administer the shot and calculating logistics of distributing it.

The UT Health Hospital system already has a freezer capable of storing the Pfizer vaccine. A hospital spokesperson says officials are working with the Texas Department of State Health Services on guidance for how to best distribute it when it becomes available.

Bethesda Health Clinic remains unsure if it will offer the vaccine. The clinic has been working with NET Health on the topic.

National retailers CVS and Walgreens are already equipped to house the vaccine inside freezers in the pharmacy departments. It remains to be seen if East Texas locations will offer the Pfizer vaccine.

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