Pfizer updates SC hospitals COVID vaccine timeline and safety

Storage could be a challenge for some hospitals, limiting availability in rural areas
Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 5:39 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) -South Carolina hospital officials heard directly from Pfizer about what could be one of the first vaccines available, as early as next month, to fight COVID-19.

While the media wasn’t allowed to listen in, the Chief Quality Officer for the Medical University of South Carolina shared her perspective on the newest details about the vaccine.

Dr. Danielle Scheurer said Thursday’s meeting was really about building confidence among the medical community in South Carolina about how safe and effective Pfizer’s vaccine is.

The vaccine could be available for certain populations as early as December, but the vaccine’s trials have been limited. Scheurer said Pfizer has not yet been able to test the vaccine among children younger than 12 or pregnant women.

There’s also no way of predicting what possible side effects may present themselves months or years later.

“I think some people are going to feel that the benefit, based on the data we have today, outweighs the risk, and I think everyone’s decision making is going to be a little bit different. It’s unknowable is the bottom line right now,” Scheurer said.

Supply and demand will also be a challenge for the vaccine and how it must be stored.

Pfizer’s version requires “ultra-cold storage,”which some experts have called a “logistical nightmare” because of how it will need to be shipped and which hospitals have or can afford to buy an ultra-cold storage freezer.

MUSC officials said their ultra-cold storage freezer would be large enough to handle storing an allocation of the vaccine.

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