COVID vaccine: Los Angeles hospitals set to administer shots to patients, employees

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Several Los Angeles hospitals are preparing to administer doses of the Pfizer vaccine to thousands of coronavirus patients and health care workers.

Keck Hospital of USC its tightening its COVID-19 restrictions as doctors admit more cases, with frontline employees expected to receive the vaccine this week.

Meanwhile, main distribution hubs around Los Angeles County have already received their first shipments of the vaccine.

As soon as the FedEx delivery truck rolled into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the task of counting and storing the vials began.

Dr. Priya Soni, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, on Tuesday said she expects health care workers to get the vaccine in their arms in the next couple of days.

"We know that vaccines are going to be the hero of this story," she said. "For the first time there is a glimmer of hope in the distance."

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Keck Hospital of USC and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital will be receiving their first 2,500 doses Thursday.

The vaccines will be administered immediately among health care workers at both locations.

"At this rate, we are looking at vaccinating around four to 500 individuals a day," said Krist Azizian, chief pharmacy officer of Keck Hospital of USC.

The goal is to get their nearly 9,000 employees vaccinated by the end of January.

Dr. Neha Nanda, medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship at Keck Medicine of USC, said, "We have prioritized healthcare workers who are working in and or caring for COVID-19 patients."

As for concern over allergic reactions, researchers suspect the culprit may be the fatty capsule used to deliver the main genetic component of the Pfizer vaccine. The CDC says anyone with a history of severe allergic reactions should be monitored after getting the vaccine.

"It's going to happen very quickly," Soni said. "Thirty minutes is a good amount of time to see if your body is going to have a reaction to this new vaccine component."

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center also received its first shipments of vaccines. The plan is to administer the vials to health care workers Wednesday morning.

Experts remind us this is a first step in a very long process so we continue with safety behaviors.

"That's masking physical distancing, testing and contact tracing, Nanda said. "We have to respect all those."
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