Louisville’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout a case of supply vs demand

Vaccination centers throughout the city have seen more people willing to take the shot than they have vaccines available.
Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 7:54 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Metro’s vaccine rollout can accurately be described by two words - supply and demand.

“And they say it’s like they won a lottery,” Baptist Health La Grange Director of Pharmacy Angela Sandlin said. “And I’m sure to some folks it does feel like they’re waiting to see that they won a lottery. But, I know the governor and federal officials as well are urging us to be patient.”

Sandlin said right now Baptist Health is dealing with the same issue as many other vaccination centers.

“Our capacity to vaccinate right now is probably more than our supply of vaccine,” Sandlin said.

It’s a problem that has defined Louisville’s vaccine rollout since Kentucky transitioned into Phase 1B, opening registration to people older than 70 and K-12 teachers.

Sandlin, and other experts, told WAVE 3 News they expected a hiccup in the rollout because of how both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are made.

“The feds told us front, there’s a curve in Phase 1, there’s a steep curve and they have it circled there where the curve trends upward that there’d be extremely high demand and very low product available,” UofL Director of Pharmacy Services Robert Fink said.

Fink told WAVE 3 News health experts meet weekly with State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack to discuss the most recent data and to discuss how many doses of each vaccine the state will get. As of now, Fink said the number is 53,700 doses that the state must distribute to roughly 33 vaccination centers. Getting more than that allotment will not be possible for at least two months, Fink said.

“This is not the same as making aspirin in a chemistry lab, this is biotechnology,” Fink said. “It doesn’t afford us the opportunity to ramp up production like we would a chemical.”

The short supply of doses has forced vaccination centers to prepare diligently to make sure the doses they do get are used.

“The night before, we make sure we look for the next day’s schedule across our entity, and the pharmacist will then be set to take it out a few hours before we’re going to start our day,” Norton Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Flynn said. “That allows two things. One, it allows it to thaw but also then when we can distribute it to the sites, it really needs to be at room temperature for 30 minutes before we inject it into somebody’s arm.”

Though rollout is moving slowly, Sandlin said it is moving in the right direction.

“Once we’ve distributed, and once we’ve perfected this and once there is a good solid supply, I think a lot of that process is going to get easier,” Sandlin said.

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