Western Mass. Hospitals Gearing Up For COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Dec 9, 2020

Hospitals across western Massachusetts are gearing up to distribute the first round of COVID-19 vaccines sometime this month. 

Baystate Health operates several hospitals in the western part of the state. Its Dr. Andrew Artenstein said the company has developed a deployment plan for COVID-19 vaccines.

"It's been simulated through a walk-through exercise last week at our first vaccine site," Artenstein said. "That's a good exercise to uncover any hidden gaps in any operational plan."

Artenstein said frontline medical workers will be among the first to receive vaccines, and Baystate is recruiting volunteers within its organization to take it in the first round.

Berkshire Health Systems operates hospitals in Berkshire County and is trying to work through a practical challenge. The vaccines need to be kept very cold, and spokesman Michael Leary said the organization is trying to find a refrigeration method.

"We are in the process of try to obtain a freezer that is capable of those temperatures so that we would be able to store that," Leary said. "In the absence of that, we are working with vendors on obtaining dry ice so that we would be able to store the vaccines."

Officials at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton said they, too, are ramping up to distribute the first doses of the vaccines once they receive them, and said their plan will be similar to how it has been givng out the vaccine for the flu.