One year ago, the ECU Health Medical Center (VMC) Pharmacy team distributed the first rounds of the COVID-19 vaccine to hospitals and clinics throughout our region. The VMC Pharmacy team serves as one of 11 vaccine distribution hubs – and the primary hub for eastern North Carolina – designated by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). These 11 hubs provide vital access to the vaccine across regions and serve as one point of distribution during periods of short supply.
Since December 2020, the VMC Pharmacy has distributed over 240,000 doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (J&J) vaccines throughout the region, which includes over 100,000 doses to 65 different providers. Distribution of the vaccine ranges from local area medical offices to health departments in New Hanover to Halifax counties. The team also provides vaccines to communities as far away as Ocracoke Island. Assistant Pharmacy Director Andy Grimone explained, “To get nearly 250,000 doses of vaccine and supplies to where they need to be takes a tremendous amount of teamwork and logistics. This team knew the importance of this project and never looked back.”
Vaccine distribution requires coordination starting in the Pharmacy’s storeroom. The team packs and ships the vaccine under strict temperature monitored conditions and repackages supplies (such as needles, syringes, diluent, vaccine cards, etc.) in specific shipment quantities.
Transferred vaccine quantities range from one to 200 vials at a time to meet the needs of individual providers (i.e. small physician practices to mass vaccine clinics). In addition, each transferred vial has to be logged and approved by the NCDHHS via the COVID Vaccine Management System (CVMS) to track vaccine inventory.
The VMC Pharmacy team also helps to coordinate vaccine shipments to VMG clinics, Vidant’s Occupational Health departments, Home Health and third-party partners across the region. Not surprising, the largest clinic supported by the Pharmacy team’s vaccine efforts was the Vidant/Pitt County Large-Scale Vaccine Clinic at the Greenville Convention Center – where more than 80,000 doses were administered between January and April 2021. This site required daily, diligent management and transportation of the vaccine, which could not have been accomplished without the help of Vidant couriers. The Vidant couriers have been critical in assisting with the successful distribution of vaccines to various locations across the system for the past year.
Thank you to entire VMC Pharmacy team for helping provide doses of hope to our communities!