Boston Medical Center receives first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

BOSTON — Crates filled with Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine are on their way to hospitals across the country, including many in Massachusetts.

A Boston Medical Center spokesperson said the hospital received its first shipment with 1,950 doses of the vaccine early Monday morning. The hospital says it will start vaccinating ICU doctors and nurses in the emergency department along with support staff that work in areas with coronavirus patients during the first round of shots.

At Tufts Medical Center, which initially expected to be one of the first Bay State hospitals to receive the vaccine shipment with a Monday afternoon delivery, is now expecting to get its doses sometime Tuesday, according to a Tufts spokesperson.

Other hospitals in the Bay State are also expecting shipments Tuesday. A UMass Memorial Health Care spokesperson said the hospital system will get its first shipment Tuesday and expects to begin vaccinating its health care workers on Thursday.

About 2.9 million vaccines will be sent across the country this week, including 59,475 initial doses bound for Massachusetts.

Bigger research hospitals – like Tufts – are equipped with special freezers that are able to store Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be kept at least 90 degrees below zero.

Some smaller hospitals that don’t have the necessary equipment must wait for Moderna’s vaccine to be approved, as their version can be stored in a standard freezer.

Each facility is using its own system to determine who will get vaccinated first. Tufts plans to start with staff members who work directly with COVID-19 patients.

“[We’re] trying to identify those front-facing staff who are working directly with the COVID patients and interacting with everyday patients as well, which is equally important knowing about asymptomatic transmission of COVID,” said Director of Emergency Management at Tufts Medical Center Nick Duncan. “We have a pretty streamlined system that will open it up, and we’re prepared to vaccinate before the end of the year, to have available 3,000 appointments for our staff for their first dose of vaccine.”

The vaccine is arriving as cases continue to surge in Massachusetts.

Sunday alone, the state reported 4,677 new COVID-19 cases.

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