A COVID-19 vaccination is just around the corner.
Ascension Via Christi President and CEO, Bob Copple, tells KMAN vaccines have been made and are waiting for the full approval from the FDA before distribution. On KMAN Thursday morning, Copple said as early as next week, they could have doses of the vaccine in Manhattan and begin vaccinating health care workers. Widespread public access to vaccines still isn’t likely until spring.
He says many people may be worried about how quickly this vaccine was produced, but reassures that all safety measures have still been followed.
“We’ve seen that throughout this process,” Copple says. “People being very diligent in what they’re doing, making sure we are following good science and following, actually our process. This is what normally kind of happens.”
Copple says the vaccines that are up for Emergency Use Authorization currently, were given to patients as clinical trial back in late spring.
“You have this six month process after you first vaccinate with anything new, and then they’ve been following these patients and following their process, again, for months,” Copple says.
Copple says there are still several details to work out, such as the frequency people will need to receive the vaccine.
“The people who have been in clinical trials are only at that six month mark, so they haven’t had a full year to see what the antibody levels do. Do they maintain or do they drop off?”
The length of effectiveness varies for all vaccines and Copple says even after receiving the vaccine it is still important to take safety precautions, such as wearing a mask.
“A lot of my team are going to be some of the first people in our county, and our state, actually, to get vaccinated. We will still have them wearing their mask here and we’re still going to be recommending that they’re wearing their masks when they aren’t at work. Again, that’s part of that protecting the health of the community,” Copple adds.
Copple also tells KMAN that a lot of distribution work still has to be done before the vaccine gets to them. He says that a ton of people are working just on the logistics of distribution.
“How that works, is that it actually comes to Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KDHE, and then they start the sub-distribution across our state.”
Along with distribution also comes the storing of the vaccine which, like everything else, won’t be easy. He says the vaccine must be stored at negative 70 degrees Celsius.
“Even in the state of Kansas, there has been an effort to identify who has freezers that are capable of safely storing this medication,” Copple says.
Overall, Copple says it has been a tough year for everyone, especially healthcare workers. He says each and every day is an unknown.
“I think everybody, everyday comes in kind of holding their breath to see what’s today going to bring. I think that’s the stress, top to bottom, for all the healthcare people in the community. That’s true if they’re walking into their clinic, it’s true for Julie Gibbs and her staff, for the EMS folks. I think everybody is just kind of saying, what is this shift going to bring, what is this day going bring.”
For the entire interview with Bob Copple, check out our On Demand section of In Focus.