COLUMBUS (WCMH) — While frontline workers in Ohio prepare for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days, what many want to know is do healthcare systems have enough doses already on hand?
Just two weeks ago, OhioHealth administered their first doses of the vaccine to a group of frontline workers.
But as the second round of injections approaches with the new year, it brings with it existing questions for infectious disease experts.
“Number one, what effect does the vaccine have on asymptomatic infection, and asymptomatic transmission?” asks Dr. Joseph Gastaldo of OhioHealth. “Number two, when you get vaccinated, how long does the immune response last? We don’t know that yet. And number three, there are some populations we still have to get further data on, specifically kids.”
But experts also said they have learned a lot over the past two of weeks of admissions.
“Our associates are very interested in receiving the vaccination,” Gastaldo said. “And we really want to vaccinate people as quickly, as safely as possible.”
“We’ve learned just what we can do as an organization of incredible, incredible, healthcare providers and leaders when they get together and set their minds to something that needs to happen quickly,” said Dr. Ian Gonsenhauser at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
For healthcare systems like Ohio State, that process relies heavily on a steady supply of the vaccine, whether planned or otherwise.
“You never know what’s going to show up, and I think we’ve had one surprise drop-off,” said Gonsenhauser said. “You know that’s a very pleasant surprise.”
In addition to the shipments sent to Ohio State, OhioHealth said it received its second allotment from Pfizer on Tuesday.
But experts said they’re still juggling the balance of that supply, with OhioHealth reserving those doses for those in the first group.
“When those second doses arrive, those second doses are already spoken for,” Gastaldo said.
While Ohio State takes a slightly different approach.
“What we haven’t done is, you know, fill up a refrigerator with second doses,” Gonsenhauser said. “It’s really important to get those first doses out, particularly with that Pfizer vaccine, obviously the second dose is important as well, but we have not been stockpiling second doses. We’re rather favoring getting people first administrations, getting as many people vaccinated as possible.”
Both doctors hope the vaccines mean a brighter future for the new year.
“Just knowing that it’s available to you is really significant for these frontline healthcare workers that have just been battling for almost a year now,” Gonsenhauser said.
OhioHealth says that by the end of the week, it will have vaccinated more than 4,000 healthcare workers.
Ohio State will be close to 7,000 vaccinated with approximately an additional 7,000 scheduled.