More than 2,500 healthcare providers sign up to administer coronavirus vaccine in Texas


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-area healthcare providers are forming plans to administer an eventual coronavirus vaccine after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced it will deliver trial data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval in the coming weeks.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has so far received 2,520 applications from healthcare providers willing to administer the vaccine.

Dr. Mezgebe Berhe, an infectious disease physician for Baylor Scott & White, helped lead Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trial, which has shown to be more than 90% effective one week after a second dose. Even he was surprised by the results.

“My telephone was blowing up the same day from the participants, from everybody who was helping in between,” Berhe told KXAN. “Obviously, this is good for humanity.”

In Austin, Tarrytown Pharmacy’s plan for administering the coronavirus vaccine includes scheduled appointments and remote sites.

Lead pharmacist Rannon Ching said Tarrytown purchased an ultra-low refrigerator, because the Pfizer coronavirus must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, though few healthcare providers possess the necessary equipment.

“We’re really not prepared nationally or even at a healthcare level to store things at that state,” Ching said.

An Austin Public Health spokesperson said the agency will mostly follow its flu vaccine distribution model when deploying coronavirus vaccine resources.

Dr. Anas Daghestani, the chief executive officer of Austin Regional Clinic, has worked with APH on its coronavirus vaccine plan for months and says the city will be able to provide backup for healthcare providers.

He isn’t worried about storage concerns with the virus, however, because a limited volume of doses will be initially available and access will be restricted to health care workers and high-risk populations.

“(The City of Austin is) talking about having a Plan B and Plan C, and how that would look like,” Dagestani said. “The City has some capability and the Army has some capability.”

Healthcare providers intend to utilize Texas’ immunization registry to ensure patients receive both doses of the vaccine and that no doses are wasted. Some state lawmakers are working to reform the platform in the upcoming legislative session because of its opt-in, instead of opt-out, structure.

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