The complicated logistics at one vaccination center offer insights into the challenges ahead for a mass rollout of the new inoculation program across Britain. While the country has been getting ready for a vaccine for some time, only now are the difficulties involved in a program of this scale being fully understood.
Fiona Kinghorn, executive director of public health for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, who oversaw the vaccine rollout at one site in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, said setting up the center and delivering the first shots on Tuesday was a major undertaking.
“It’s not just this week, it’s been six months of work,” she said.
Work on a mass vaccination program began in earnest in June, long before it was clear which vaccine might be approved by the government and when. On Monday, the center received one batch of vaccine — a tray of vials containing 975 doses, five to each vial — that must be used within five days after being defrosted.
“We’ve had to prioritize and phase how we might bring people in,” she said. The center began with health care workers and social care staff.
Unlike flu vaccines, which come prepacked in syringes for easy use, the coronavirus vaccines must be prepared on site after they are defrosted, and then the prepared vials must be used within hours. The center was scheduled to provide 225 vaccinations on Tuesday and continue daily until they finish the tray. Any doses they failed to use in time would have to be discarded, creating a sense of urgency.
“We’re doing it with military precision, and in fact, we have had the military helping with our planning too,” Ms. Kinghorn said.
The center will receive its next tray of vaccine on Friday, and then will decide on the right time to defrost and begin using those.
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