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NCH says it wants to be among the first to offer COVID-19 vaccine

NCH Healthcare System wants to be one of the first places to give the coronavirus vaccine.

In a town hall posted on the hospital’s Facebook page, NCH said it wants to hit the ground running when a vaccine is released.

There’s still some uncertainty from people in Southwest Florida about whether they want to get a vaccine when it’s ready.

We talked with two people who recovered from COVID-19 and another whose family has health concerns. While they all said they’d eventually get the vaccine, some said not right away or that they have concerns about how the vaccine will be distributed.

“We’re working today with our state-level government and county-level government to see what we can do to be that distribution point if and when that becomes available,” said John Kling, the NCH chief nursing officer.

Kling said they’ve talked about this plan for close to a month and want to be ready when a vaccine gets the green light.

Buddy Smith recovered from COVID-19 and donated his plasma. He says he’ll be in line when the vaccine is ready.

“It’s like you had the flu, but you get a flu shot every year,” Smith said.

But for Lloyd Duhon, he’s kept his kids home this year over health concerns.

Despite that, he says they’re comfortable passing on the vaccine for a while to make sure people like nurses and doctors can get it first.

“Those people, you know, need and deserve to get the first round of the virus protection,” Duhon said. “And then the rest of us that can stay home and can stay safe, can get it in a later phase. That also helps us to know the efficacy of it. We’ll know if it’s really working or not.”

Others hope distribution looks a lot like drive-thru testing sites.

Bill Little, who recovered from COVID-19, worries that if vaccines are in a hospital, people could be exposed or have long wait times.

“They need to line everybody up over at the ballpark over there like they did for testing them,” Little said. “It’d be faster. I mean, how many could you get done? Because you have to check into the hospital.”

We reached out to NCH and the chief nursing officer to give further details, but we haven’t heard back.

Lee Health said it will get back to us Friday about whether it’s also working to become a distribution site.

NCH provided the following statement:

While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, the NCH COVID task force has been planning and preparing for how disbursement may happen at our facilities, which includes our hospitals and physician practices. We want to be as ready as we can be for the day the world hears the good news that a preventative treatment has been created, and that includes working closely with our supply chain partners. 

Nothing is set in stone at this point as we all anxiously await news of a vaccine, but NCH will share details with our community on how they can get a vaccine at one of our facilities in what we all hope, is the not-to-distant future.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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