KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Area health leaders believe the Kansas City metro could be a storage and distribution hub for COVID-19 vaccines.
Right now, metro hospitals are preparing to obtain the vaccine and administer it to staff and patients.
"The vaccine has become the thing we’re focusing on that could get us to the end of this," said Dr. Michael Liston, chief medical officer at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs.
Hope is on the horizon as the rush to get a viable vaccine is underway, especially since the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at 94 degrees below zero.
"We have some ultra-low storage, actually we have some on order and expecting it here at the end of the year," said Dr. Mark Steele, chief clinical officer for Truman Medical Centers.
"Because of the university side here, they have a lot of research, which things are often stored at very cold temperatures anyway, so we have storage space for vaccines," added Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer with the University of Kansas Health System, during the hospital's daily media briefing call on Thursday.
In Missouri, there are now 10 sites approved to store the vaccine.
"We need people to travel to those sites for the Pfizer vaccine and when Moderna comes out shortly thereafter we can distribute that throughout the state, but we are not going to let any moss gather on any vaccine that comes here in Missouri," said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. "We’re going to get it out and distribute it immediately."
The Moderna vaccine does not need the extreme cold like Pfizer; it can be stored at 4 degrees below zero.
"Moderna, for example, is going to be easier to distribute than Pfizer actually because they are able to keep it at room temperature for 12 hours before you have to administer it," said Dr. Barbara Pahud, research director at Children’s Mercy.
Once delivered, hospitals said they won't waste any time in administering the vaccine.
"We’re going to have to be diligent about making sure we have people lined up for the vaccine and that we have it scheduled so they come in and they get it right away so we don’t have drugs sitting around and expiring on the shelf," Liston said.
It could be late spring or summer before any approved vaccine may be available to the general public, and they will have to be served in two doses weeks apart.
Learn more about who will get vaccinated first here.