News & Announcements

Phoebe Prepares to Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

Albany, Ga. – With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expected to approve or grant emergency use authorization to multiple COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks, Phoebe is well-prepared to begin administering vaccines to eligible populations and expects to play a leading role in the vaccination process in southwest Georgia.  Phoebe is one of the first organizations in Georgia capable of properly storing and administering what will likely be the first available COVID-19 vaccine.

“Pfizer was the first pharmaceutical company to apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA.  Their vaccine requires careful storage and must be refrigerated at a temperature of 94 degrees below zero (-70 Celsius).  Phoebe invested in an ultra-cold refrigeration system specifically to be prepared to receive doses of this vaccine, and we are currently able to receive, store and safely administer any of the multiple COVID-19 vaccines that may soon be approved for use,” said Marty Kelvas, DPh, Phoebe Putney Health System Director of Pharmacy Services.

Phoebe has formally applied through the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Immunization Program to serve as an official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider.  As such, Phoebe expects to receive a significant number of vaccines and will work with community medical providers to coordinate vaccine planning.  “We set up a Phoebe Vaccine Planning Team and are leading a COVID-19 Vaccine Medical Task Force made up of healthcare providers in the community who may be involved in coordinating vaccinations.  We are also working closely with DPH to ensure we are able to quickly and efficiently administer vaccines, once we have them,” said Julie Miller, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

While it is unclear how many vaccines Phoebe will receive and when vaccinations will begin, the National Academy of Medicine developed a framework for equitable allocation that Phoebe will follow.  “The experts came up with this framework, and the CDC is working on guidelines that will include four phases of vaccine administration to ensure we have the greatest and quickest success in getting this virus under control.  We will follow these guidelines and instructions from DPH strictly and scrupulously and depend on the community Vaccine Medical Task Force to work out other details to ensure efficient and equitable distribution,” said William Sewell, MD, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Information Officer.

Phoebe’s COVID-19 Vaccine Planning Team is currently working on vaccination locations, processes for appointment scheduling and procedures to verify that vaccine recipients fall into the proper vaccination phases.  “We want to protect our community by getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible under the rules we must follow.  We tested ourselves this fall by administering 5,000 flu shots to Phoebe Family members in just over a week.  We know we can do this.  We have a responsibility to do this, and we will be here to serve our communities well through this vitally important process,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System President & Chief Executive Officer.

Phoebe is not only preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccines in Albany but also in Americus and Sylvester.  “This is a system-wide effort.  We are coordinating with Phoebe Sumter and Phoebe Worth to ensure whatever allocations we receive for those areas are administered to the people there,” Steiner said.

Phoebe will release more details on its COVID-19 vaccination efforts once it receives more information from federal and state government partners.  “There are still a lot of questions to be answered, but we want everyone to know our planning has put us ahead of the game.  We will be transparent throughout this process, and we look forward to the day when vaccinations can help us beat this virus, once and for all,” Steiner said.

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