Local pharmacies prep for anticipated Covid-19 vaccines

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso is already coming up with plans on how it will distribute the anticipated COVID-19 vaccines when approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

As the wait for approval continues, local pharmacists are prepping on distribution plans, knowing there will be a cap on how many vaccines will be available while also making sure El Pasoans will get immunized correctly.

“Each of the individual pharmacies, because they’re independent, part of chains, or whether they be family owned, will have their own plans too,” Margie Padilla, Clinical Associate Professor at the UTEP School of Pharmacy said. “I think immunization managers are getting ready on how to distribute and track, which will be very important because it’s a two-dose vaccine.”

As Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are anticipating final approval, Padilla explained both require two doses and the second dose is where people will get the most benefit from the vaccine.

“So it’s anticipated that a week after that second dose, then you should have immunity. That’s what’s being projected right now,” Padilla said, “We still have to wait once it gets approval with the final indications and what the final dosing requirements are.”

Padilla added that the plan for tracking those for the second dose is critical and shared this example: “Let’s just say we get 50,000 vaccines. The way I would think about that would be then, well I’m really going to give it to 25,000. Why? Because two doses. So I’m going to make sure that those 25,000 that receive that first dose, I need to figure out a plan to track them to get them back for that second dose.”

If the vaccines get approved, Padilla said first responders and the most vulnerable population in El Paso would be some of the first to receive it, however gave some advice for those anticipating the distribution.

“What I would advise is for people to remain patient, and to continue all the preventive measures while the vaccines are getting disseminated. Why? Because first responders are going first, then the vulnerable population, so we don’t know if it’s one, two or three months before we have access for someone like myself to the vaccine,” Padilla said.

Padilla mentioned that UTEP is currently in a great position to help the community by leveraging resources if the vaccines are approved, and can also help with refrigeration storage.

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