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Decatur pharmacy prepares to receive and distribute coronavirus vaccines

The pharmacy said it expects to receive vaccines from the second phase of distribution, possibly in February.

Posted: Dec 7, 2020 5:39 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2020 5:44 PM

A pharmacy in Decatur is already preparing to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Payless Pharmacy says the state approved them to be one of the sites where you can get a vaccine when it becomes available.

Right now, their focus is getting a new freezer set up to store the vaccine. They're expecting to start using it when they receive the vaccine during Phase 2 of distribution, which they think could come as early as February.

Chris Matthews is a pharmacist and also the pharmacy's vaccine coordinator. He said he's spent months filling out paperwork so they could be one of the sites to distribute the coronavirus vaccine.

"We want to be a part of the solution to what's going on. We are excited to get this. They're hard to find. We are just getting everything in line so we're ready to go when it gets approved," he said.

Owner and pharmacist, Blake Gowen, said they spent thousands of dollars to purchase a freezer that can hold the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures.

"It's one of the ones where the cost is more, but when you put a life on it, it's worth it if it saves one life," he said.

"Crazy cold. It's not your normal, everyday freezer. You have to have a special thermometer to make sure you keep it at that degree, too. You have to have special gear to get in there. It has to have a lock on it, so it's going to be a learning process for all of us, actually," Matthews added.

The freezer arrived over the weekend. They're planning to use it to store 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and said they bought one before they went on back order.

"It is extremely important. This freezer is going to be big for the Pfizer vaccine that's coming out. Well, for both of them, but you can tell it gets to negative 86 degrees Celsius," Matthews said.

Matthews explained that it's vital that anyone who gets the vaccine comes back for the second dose. He says they're already working on their plan to make the process as seamless as possible.

"The 12th day after the first shot, you start showing a little bit of immunity. They do not guarantee it until a week after the second shot. That's where the 95% effectiveness comes in, so it's extremely important to get that second shot," Matthews said.

Gowen said they'll be ready to start distribution as soon as they get the green light from the state.

"The virus has impacted a lot of these lives in our community and it's hit hard, so we just want to throw a punch back at it," he said.

The pharmacy said they recommend everyone, but especially people who have the virus, to take Vitamin C and D, as well as Zinc. They said they're seeing it fly off the shelves.

The pharmacy said it also has freezer space for the Moderna vaccine that doesn't have to be held at such a low temperature. They said they expect to receive any coronavirus vaccines that hit the market.

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