Arizona hospital holds dry run for vaccine distribution

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An Arizona hospital launched a trial run Friday simulating how it will distribute COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers once the Food and Drug Administration signs off on a candidate.

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HonorHealth, a nonprofit, local community health care system, collaborated with the community to create a plan so it can be prepared to vaccinate thousands of frontline health care workers as fast as possible.

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With help from officials within the city of Scottsdale, Maricopa County and the Mayo Clinic, the hospital was able to refine its process Friday morning.

"When authorization comes, we'll be ready," HonorHealth tweeted.

(HonorHealth)

Roughly 85 volunteers wearing gloves and face masks oversaw five drive-up lanes that were safely spread across a large parking lot in the Phoenix area.

About 30 to 40 of those volunteers simulated the process of patients driving up to a tent in each lane to get a vaccine. At first, the cars were greeted by a volunteer before being directed to one of the five lanes. From that point, volunteers mimicked the action of giving the vaccine in order to count the timing of how long each patient will take.

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The cars were then ushered to an observation area where patients would wait for roughly 15 minutes for observation of any possible side effects after the vaccine is administered before exiting the parking lot.

(HonorHealth)

Dr. John Pope, HonorHealth's vice president and chief medical officer, told FOX Business Friday that the hospital has been planning for an event like this since the beginning of October. Now armed with six refrigerators and a refined drive-thru process, he says they are ready for when a vaccine is allocated to the state, which he projects may be by mid-December.

The Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing the emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna later this month. Current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of this year. Each product also requires two doses, meaning shots will be rationed in the early stages.

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On Tuesday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said that health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get vaccinated when the first shots become available, although final guidance will be left up to state authorities.

(HonorHealth)

"These are really the people on the front lines," Pope said. "And it will serve them hope as they take care of patients."

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When the time comes, officials hope to be able to vaccinate upward of 130 health care workers per hour. Overall, they are hoping to receive around 15,000 doses, However, while it's far too early to tell how many doses they will be allocated, the hospital has developed algorithms that can scale up or down depending on how much it receives.

Either way, Pope says they are confident they are "going to be ready."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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