HOUSTON - The COVID-19 vaccine is on its way to Houston and is just hours from arriving.
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine shipped from a production facility in Michigan this morning and is set to arrive here in Houston this evening or in the early morning hours tomorrow.
"This is the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Memorial Hermann Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Linda Yancey who says after treating and watching some patients die for months, now there's a chance to get COVID-19 under control.
"I am so excited. This is MRNA vaccine technology that I have watched being developed over the past 15 years. The MRNA vaccines have two claims to fame. One is that they can be produced quickly and the other is just their fantastic safety profile,” explains Dr. Yancey.
Memorial Hermann is one of 27 hospitals in the Houston area receiving this first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine this week.
"It's going to come in five dose vials that are frozen down to negative 80. It takes about an hour for it to come up to room temperature.
After that we just start lining people up and giving them the first dose. This is going to rollout to frontline healthcare workers but also to the most vulnerable elderly in nursing homes first".
Houstonians who will receive this first round of vaccine have appointments already scheduled. "This is a highly effective vaccine. So a week after the first dose folks will have 80% protection from symptomatic disease.
There's a second dose administered three weeks later and a week after that folks will be 95% protected".
Memorial Hermann Hospital has more than 16,000 workers who will be vaccinated in the next few days.
"This vaccine prevents symptomatic disease and it cuts down on the transmission of coronavirus but it does not prevent it altogether. So even though I'm probably going to be vaccinated next week I'm still going to be wearing a mask for months to come and so should everybody else".
So we can't go say so long to the super safe behavior yet but soon? "This is the beginning of the end of this. It's going to be a long road that we're going down to get everybody in the country and around the world vaccinated but seeing the first steps taken on that path is amazing".
Dr. Yancey also says several hundred, if not more than a thousand workers will likely be vaccinated on the first day of the vaccine's arrival.