A general trial run to test procedures for transporting and stocking the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus was successful, according to Dirk Ramaekers, the head of Belgium’s working group on Covid-19 vaccines.
There were no major problems, Ramaekers said. However, certain details still have to be finetuned and staff will still need to be trained in the coming weeks, especially in nursing homes.
The Pfizer vaccine is scheduled to be the first to be administered in Belgium, starting in January with residents of nursing homes and caregiving staff.
On Thursday, placebos were used in four hospital centres in the country to see whether the procedures for delivery, stocking in hospital freezers, thawing, transport to care centres, then stocking and administering still presented shortcomings. According to Ramaekers, this was not the case.
“It’s one thing to draw up a procedure, but a trial run is something else – this was an exciting week,” he commented. “Some details could be improved, but the hospitals and residential care centres mostly had appropriate equipment, and everything went well. In the residential care centres, administrators were already well informed, but the nursing staff still needs training.”
Transport between the hospitals and the nursing homes is done by a specialised agency, which needs to be able to present “a very complete record of temperature” after delivery to prove that the vaccines have not been warmed.
To avoid wastage, nursing homes also need to state in advance the exact number of doses they need for their residents and staff members who have indicated that they wish to be vaccinated.
For vaccines from other manufacturers, a new procedure adapted to their characteristics will be drawn up and tested on each occasion, according to Ramaekers.