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Bowling Green Medical Center Among First Kentucky Hospitals to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Credit Marty Osbourn, Kentucky Pediatric/Adult Research COO

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is preparing to immunize nearly a thousand of its employees against the coronavirus once a vaccine receives emergency approval this month from the Food and Drug Administration.

It's one of 11 Kentucky hospitals selected to receive the first shipment of Pfizer's vaccine.  Dr. Melinda Joyce, a pharmacist and VP of Corporate Support Services for Med Center Health, says all 11 hospitals were chosen because they have rare, ultra cold freezers that can store the vaccine at minus 94 degrees, which is the required temperature for the vaccine.

“We’ve had one for a while because there are certain items used in the surgery area that need to be stored at that temperature, but most hospitals do not have that kind of freezer capability," Joyce told WKU Public Radio.

Emergency and critical care staff who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients will be among the first to get inoculated.

The Medical Center will receive 975 doses initially by the middle of the month, and will eventually get enough to immunize its entire workforce of nearly 5,000. 

Joyce says the vaccinations will be voluntary.

"There’s been a lot of concern about this vaccine. A lot of people are worried about because they think it’s come out very quickly," stated Joyce. "We’ve tried to educate our staff to tell them there’s actually been a lot of study behind this vaccine.”

The doses that will be distributed later this month are the first of two needed for full vaccination. A booster shot is required 28 days later. 

Pfizer says it's COVID-19 vaccine is 94% effective and will likely hit the market as Kentucky is experiencing a record number of hospitalizations with 1,792 as of Friday.

The Barren River District Health Department, which serves Warren County, reported a total of 14,524  coronavirus cases as of Friday.  The eight-county region has recorded 171 deaths overall.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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