Coronavirus NYC News: See how 1 major hospital is preparing for COVID vaccine as feds meet

Coronavirus Update for New York

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, December 10, 2020
See how 1 major NYC hospital is preparing for COVID vaccine as feds meet
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Derick Waller reports on a hospital that is preparing for the COVID vaccine by doing vaccine rehearsals.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The federal government's independent coronavirus vaccine panel is meeting at 9 a.m. in Maryland, and by 6 p.m. we could know if they will approve Pfizer's COVID vaccine.

There are concerns approval could be delayed by a couple of days after patients in the UK with a history of severe allergies had a reaction to the vaccine. Regulators will be asking about that.

Still, hospitals everywhere are getting ready.

"We are working to set everything up so that we're ready to go as soon as the local and federal authorities give us the go ahead," said Dr. Ania Wajberg of Mount Sinai Health System.

RELATED: COVID vaccine timeline: Key dates to know about FDA authorization, distribution

At Mount Sinai, they are doing vaccine rehearsals. That's because the vials have to be stored in special ultra-cold freezers or encased in dry ice.

Eyewitness News spoke with Anthony Priolo of Armato Ice in the Bronx, whose dry ice will play a huge part in keeping the super sensitive vaccines cold, as low as 94 degrees below zero.

If the vaccine sits out too long it will spoil. So medical professionals and suppliers have to get it right.

"We really want to treat this vaccine as the liquid gold that it is," said Susan Mashni, Vice President of Pharmacy for Mount Sinai, "because it's really the only tool that we have right now in our tool box to cure this disease."

"If something goes wrong, it's not an easy replace," said Mount Sinai's Vivian Leonard. "Other times, you know, we've had freezer freezers or refrigerators that don't work. We can replace the drug. In this case, we can't."

RELATED: Cuomo says vaccine could arrive this weekend, nursing homes first

High-risk hospital staff will get the first of New York's 170,000 dose shipment as early as Tuesday.

But experts are cautioning everyone not to let their guard down.

COVID will continue to be an issue, state officials warn, possibly through the summer, because of how long it's going to take to get most people vaccinated.

After today's meeting, that federal COVID vaccine panel has another meeting set for next week to consider approval of the Moderna vaccine.

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