CLEVELAND — With now a pair of COVID-19 vaccines pending emergency use authorization, anticipation is building as questions remain about distribution.
"If we have the vaccine and an [Emergency Use Authorization] we can be ready to go probably within 24-48 hours," said Robyn Strosaker, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, COO.
On Tuesday, a CDC committee will meet to decide who gets priority.
It's expected to mirror Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's plan to vaccinate frontline workers and high-risk patients first.
There’s also the possibility of including residents at long-term care facilities in the first round.
"That may happen, and we're prepared for that should it happen," said Strosaker.
There are two sites in Northeast Ohio, Metro Health and the Cleveland Clinic, that will have a stockpile of the vaccines prior to getting FDA approval for quicker distribution.
They may not be a "pre-positioned" facility, but UH, which studied the Pfizer vaccine, is also ready.
"We do have some of that on site, and we also expect to get a shipment within days of the emergency use authorization as well,” said Strosaker.
Strosaker said that she doesn't expect a lot of lag time or side effects.
"Maybe a little soreness in the arm, maybe a little redness in the arm, maybe a little flu-like symptoms for 24-hours after the vaccine, but largely very, very, mild," said Strosaker.
With a robust mid-December roll out for those at highest risk, the general public can expect access by the second quarter of 2021.
"April, May, June,” said Strosaker.
The companies behind both coronavirus vaccines claim they're more than 90% effective, which is much higher than the flu vaccine.
"The science is different between the COVID vaccines and the flu vaccines, but we were very, very happy with the results of both the Moderna and Pfizer trial. I think it's really encouraging that we can be a very different situation by summertime," said Strosaker.
That is if everyone steps up to get the shots.
"It will be harder to get out of the pandemic if people don't want the vaccine. We will do everything we can as a health care system to make sure that we continue to educate folks and help them understand why this vaccine is so important, why we believe it is safe and we'll do everything we can do get it distributed as quickly as we can," said Strosaker.