The first shipment of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine arrived in states across New England on Monday as the number of those requiring hospital care for coronavirus continues to climb.
The Boston Medical Center was among the first hospitals in Massachusetts to receive a shipment of the live-saving vials that were immediately put into an ultra-cold freezer, where they will stay under tight security until Wednesday.
Jenny Eriksen Leary, a BMC spokeswoman, said the center received 1,950 doses of the vaccine and will start administering them on Wednesday. She said front line health care workers, including doctors and nurses in the intensive care unit, emergency department and patient floors that treat COVID-19 patients, will be among the first to receive the doses.
Employees from environmental and support services, and other positions that work in areas with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 will also be vaccinated first, Leary said.
Kate Walsh, president and CEO of the Boston Medical Center health system, shared a TikTok video Monday on her Twitter account that shows a group of hospital employees dancing outside the BMC to celebrate the arrival of the vaccines.
"Why I love my job [at the BMC]. Teams of people working to safely and equitably distribute vaccines to their front line colleagues getting cheered on by their friends celebrating the arrival of the vaccines! A great day, a great place," she captioned the tweet.
Click here to watch the heartwarming video.
Elsewhere in Boston, Tufts Medical Center was initially expected to receive its shipment on Monday, but the hospital now confirms it will not arrive until Tuesday. They are expecting to receive approximately 975 doses of the vaccine, and the first Tufts employees will roll up their sleeves Wednesday.
While they're not sure how many people will sign up right away, they hope to have all of their staff vaccinated by early March.
"When my time is come, when I'm allowed to get it, I will be getting the COVID vaccine," said Nick Duncan, the director of emergency management at Tufts. "I believe in the science and I believe it’s the right thing to do to get us to the other side of the COVID fight."
Once the vaccine clinic starts Wednesday at Tufts, it will be a slow process; there will be a 15-minute observation period after every shot.
Other area hospitals expecting deliveries early this week include UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Brigham and Women's in Boston, MelroseWakefield in Melrose and Mass General Brigham, which operates 12 hospitals in the region.
Nearly 3 million doses are expected to be distributed across the nation, of which Massachusetts will see an initial shipment of 60,000 vials.
In Rhode Island, the hospital network Lifespan has received about 3,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine and was expected to administer it to high-risk staff members starting at 1 p.m.
In an emergency meeting Monday morning, Rhode Island's COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee recommended administering the vaccine to frontline health care workers first.
"In the coming weeks and months, as vaccine becomes more available, getting vaccinated will be one of the most powerful things you can do to keep yourself and the people you love safe from COVID-19," Rhode Island's Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said in a written statement Monday. "We are going to work to ensure that every person in every community in Rhode Island has access to the vaccine, especially those communities hardest hit by this virus.”
Five Rhode Island hospitals will be the first receive the vaccines: Kent Hospital, Newport Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital (and Hasbro Children’s Hospital), Women & Infants Hospital, and The Miriam Hospital.
New Hampshire received its first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, about 12,675 doses.
“The state stands ready to get to work and distribute this life-saving vaccine to the citizens of our state,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement Sunday night.
The first shipment is expected to be distributed to at-risk health workers, including front-line clinical staff providing direct patent care. Subsequent allotments would be distributed to residents of long-term care facilities and first responders.
The truck carrying the Pfizer vaccine is expected to arrive at Connecticut's Hartford Hospital's loading dock Monday morning. They've been following the tracking information from Fedex.
“Excitement, anticipation,” said Eric Arlia, Hartford HealthCare’s Senior Director Systems Pharmacy. “We are expecting 1,950 doses in our first week allocation, which is to what they call, trays of the vaccine.”
“This is a significant moment for our state and our country,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. He added, “Here in Connecticut, we are incredibly proud to be able to say that the Pfizer team in Groton helped to develop this first vaccine to fight the coronavirus which we know will help to get our communities back to normal.”
Connecticut placed its first order for 31,200 doses of vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Dec. 4, and Lamont said the state anticipates delivery to hospitals as soon as Monday. Long-term care facilities across Connecticut have agreements with either Walgreens or CVS for vaccine administration, and distribution is expected to begin Dec. 21.
Maine hospitals on Monday began receiving the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer. The first doses were going to seven Maine hospitals, and as well as long-term care facilities.
Gov. Janet Mills hailed the arrival of the vaccine as a "beacon of hope," but warned residents that it would take months to administer the vaccine to the general public.
“I urge Maine people in the strongest terms: wear your masks, watch your distance, avoid gatherings, and wash your hands – to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your fellow Maine citizens as we undertake this critical process,” she said in a statement.
Maine has also already submitted a request to the FDA for a second shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Combined, the state hopes to have enough doses to vaccinate approximately 50,525 people.
Maine is relying on the Pfizer vaccine and another from Moderna. The Moderna vaccine still must be approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said the first 1,950 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arrived in the state on Monday. The State Vaccine Depot and the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington each received 975 doses around 8 a.m.
“This is an important milestone and an essential step toward defeating a virus that’s devastated families and businesses throughout Vermont and around the globe,” Scott said in a statement. “There is no better, safer or faster way to defeat this virus and work to rebuild our economy than a successful effort to make vaccines available to every single Vermonter. We are committed to working with our partners to get this done, so we can get through this and be stronger and more resilient than ever before.”
The Vermont Department of Health was allocated weekly shipments of 5,850 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine through December. On Tuesday, the Health Department will receive an additional 1,950 doses, and another 1,950 doses will ship later this week directly to pharmacies that have contracted with the federal government to administer vaccines at long-term care facilities. The Health Department, in coordination with the State Emergency Operations Center, will distribute vaccine to hospitals throughout the state.
Healthcare workers as well as those who live and work in long-term care facilities will be among the first to get the vaccine. People ages 65 and older, those with underlying conditions, along with essential workers are next in line to receive a vaccine.