EUGENE, Ore. -- As health officials brace for the Food and Drug Administration's anticipated approval of Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines, Oregon Medical Group is among the healthcare providers preparing for the task of distributing and administering it.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stacy Chance said that they are currently registering for a portion of the doses to be distributed across the state.
"I think it's about time we've got some good news with the pandemic," he said.
They have yet to learn how many they will receive or if they will get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines pending FDA approval.
The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold freezers for storage, which is a limiting factor for Oregon Medical Group's clinics, while the Moderna vaccine allows for more flexibility.
"We likely won't be getting much of the Pfizer vaccine early on, but all medical facilities will have the capacity for the Moderna vaccine because it won't need to be stored at quite as low of a temperature," said Chance.
Following federal and state guidance, the vaccines Oregon Medical Group receives during the first phase of distribution will be administered to its own healthcare workers, possibly as early as this week. Meanwhile, assisted living facilities will get the vaccines in bulk from pharmacies.
The second phase, which opens doses of the vaccine to a wider public, is expected to begin in late winter or early spring.
"We still have time to work out the details of that. And we will do a really good job of letting everyone know as soon as we have it and they are able to get a vaccine that they can start scheduling time to come get it," said Chance.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, either three or four weeks apart depending on the type. According to Chance, that means that patient education will need to be a strong element of their plans.
"When you are here for the first dose of the vaccine, we will schedule the next dose and you will get reminders. We will be tracking it closely," he said.
Chance believes that those on the fence about getting the vaccine should be emboldened by the knowledge that healthcare workers will have already taken it. Though the work of distributing the vaccine is just beginning, he believes the effort will be well worth it.
"It's a great reason, it's a great cause, it's really important. So we are willing to put in the extra work."