Clark Memorial Hospital prepares for first round of COVID-19 vaccine

The hospital is one of five chosen to give the first round of COVID vaccinations. Here, health care workers will get the first shots.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — As the country awaits the FDA’s approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, a southern Indiana hospital is preparing to store it. 

Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville will store the vaccine in a freezer at -70 degrees Celsius – the temperature required to safely house the Pfizer doses. 

The hospital is one of five chosen to give the first round of COVID vaccinations. Here, health care workers will get the first shots.

“We feel like we are out in the forefront, being able to give the vaccine to healthcare providers,” CEO Ruth Schmidt said.

Lance Ballard, director of pharmacy added, “It’s an honor but it’s a burden because you want to do it correctly.”

Clark Memorial is expecting its first round of 975 doses to arrive on Dec. 15, but their initial allocation is 1,950. They will be serving Clark, Floyd and Scott Counties.

“These allocations have to cover those healthcare workers as well, and what we are seeing right now we feel that we are going to have enough vaccine to handle the demand,” Ballard said.

The hospital was notified a month ago that they would be one of the first to house the vaccine and immediately, they began preparing.

From the freezer to the priority health care workers, the vaccine will be given in a clinic solely designated to vaccinations at Clark Memorial.

Schmidt said it has taken a group effort to prepare for this moment

“And it’s really just been everyone working together to get the word out, to get the space ready because we are looking at doing 45 immunizations hour,” she said.

Schmidt says patients will pre-register on a state website beforehand, and then once the vaccine is administered, patients stay 15 minutes for monitoring and then are free to leave. Officials said the vaccine is a step in the right direction.

“To potentially have a tool to win this fight and beat this virus, and the vaccine is that tool.”

Pending approval, vaccinations are expected to begin Dec. 16.

Contact reporter Elle Smith at esmith@whas11.com or on her social media outlets: Facebook or Twitter. 

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