Charleston, South Carolina – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) on Friday announced that it anticipates receiving 5,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the initial shipment, should the vaccine receive emergency use authorization from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Approval by the FDA is expected by Monday.
MUSC says that once approved, distribution will be based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, and “health system care team members and long-term care residents at MUSC Health facilities will be the first groups to receive the vaccine, if they want it.”
Chief Quality Officer Danielle Scheurer, M.D., explained:
“Our first wave of health care providers to receive the vaccine will be anyone who touches patients. The second wave will be anyone who is within six feet of patients. Then everyone else who supports operations and functions of MUSC Health.”
By the end of December, MUSC hopes that “everyone at MUSC Health who wants the vaccine will have been vaccinated.”
While MUSC is optimistic about the process, there will be several logistical hurdles.
While the university is receiving 5,000 doses in the first shipment, each patient requires two doses. MUSC did not specify whether they would use the 5,000 initial doses to vaccinate 2,500 patients with both doses, or vaccinate 5,000 patients with the initial dose and wait until the next shipment comes to give the second dose.
Additionally, the vaccine must be kept in “ultra-cold storage.” Luckily, MUSC does have the capacity to safely store the vaccine.
Before administering the vaccine to a patient, it must be “reconstituted,” or brought up to temperature; once reconstituted, “it only lasts for six hours.”
As such, MUSC must “be extremely precise about how many people are getting vaccinated that day.”
Scheurer said that MUSC is “not going to tolerate any amount of waste of this vaccine — for obvious reasons.”