Local medical experts begin planning distribution plans for COVID-19 vaccine

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations in the metro could begin as soon as Friday.

Medical experts who have been planning the eventual rollout are shoring up distribution plans to get the vaccine to the people who need it the most as fast as they can.

COVID-19 vaccine distribution centers, like The University of Kansas Health System, will be able to keep a percentage of the vaccine they receive to be used at the hospital. The rest will be distributed to other facilities and nursing homes. That exact number is still being discussed

“There is real hope, and that hope begins this week,” said University of Kansas Health System Medical Director Dr. Steven Stites, whose team has been planning for this week for months.

“We spent hours and hours and hours and hours and hours looking at how we are going to distribute the vaccine here internally and how we start identifying people, which I think we’ve already started doing,” Stites said. “I think many facilities have finally gotten it down to a name and a time about when you’re going to get your first dose of the vaccine.”

At the hospital, medical staff who work directly with COVID patients will be on deck first. The rest of the vaccines will be sent out to nursing homes, which will be determined by the state.

“We are well-positioned,” University of Kansas Health System Infections Disease Expert Dr. Dana Hawkinson said. “We took a lot of the protocols and systems that we had in place with her influenza vaccinations, and of course tweaked it a little bit towards this, but we continue to wait on a weekly basis for the exact details.”

On the other side of the State line, Truman Medical Center is one of the distribution points there.

“Our anchor affiliates are Truman Medical Center, and St. Luke’s Hospital and Children’s Mercy,” Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, dean for the UMKC School of Medicine, said. She has been involved in Missouri’s vaccine rollout plan. “So our understanding from the State is their initial distribution will be about 10,000 doses.”

Jackson estimated 3,000 doses is coming to KCMO each week. Missouri’s distribution plan also starts with medical workers, which will be distributed on a staggered schedule.

“So you wouldn’t want everybody in the ICU to come down and get vaccine the first day. Because if you have a portion of them that then develop headache, or fevers that make us think, is this COVID? Or is this just an adverse event related to vaccine?” Jackson said. “Then we’d have that be a problem for us.”

While medical institutions are finalizing coordination, it will be the key to successful distribution.

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