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'I have never seen such detailed planning' | GW Hospital gets first vaccine doses

On Sunday, medical crews and hospitals in DC continued to plan for administering the COVID-19 vaccine possibly as soon as this week.

WASHINGTON — The George Washington University Hospital said it would begin administering doses of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday – the first doses to go out in the DMV.

The hospital said it received its first shipment of 725 doses Monday morning. That's sooner than expected, but the hospital said it wouldn't waste any time in beginning administering them.

Previously, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that five members of the DC Fire and EMS Department would be among the first to receive the vaccination in the District.

The "First Five" is what Bowser is calling the DC Fire and EMS members getting the vaccine. The first responders will be vaccinated by staff at Kaiser Permanente once the hospital group gets its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. 

“Today, we have hope. After a long and tragic nine months, help is finally on the way," said Mayor Bowser in a statement. "The First Five are sending a strong message about the importance of this vaccine to protect them, their families and loved ones, their patients and co-workers, and our entire city."

In total, six locations in the district that have the necessary equipment to store the Pfizer vaccine will receive 6,825 doses combined.

The facilities are MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Howard University Hospital, The George Washington University Hospital, Children's National Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

On Sunday, District of Columbia Hospital Association President and CEO Jaqueline Bowens said the vaccine distribution was coming after weeks and months of planning by medical staff.

"In my entire over 25-year career in this business, I have never seen such detailed planning on anything," she told WUSA 9. "Right now, in preparation, they’re doing a number of drills to simulate what this might look like. They’re going to be addressing issues around transportation, storage, waste, daily communicating with one another.”

Bowens believed the vaccines could start being given out in a week to 10 days, and possibly as soon as the end of this week.

Each of the six locations receiving vaccine doses will be working with assigned health care providers in the district, with Children's National partnering with United Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente working with the DC government to vaccinate front line workers.

With DC receiving less than 7,000 doses, Bowens said it would be crucial for the medical crews to work together successfully.

"The finite amount we get, it is extremely important that we manage it, we ensure that we store it correctly," she said. "You’re going to plan locations, where you administer the vaccine, that we have appropriate transportation and security."

Aside from administering the vaccine, Bowens said medical staff was also focusing on easing concerns people may have beforehand and informing them about the process.

"We are making sure that we are honest in getting them all the information that we know so that we can build that confidence and trust,” she said. "We have to meet people where they are. We need to share with them and be transparent, give as much information as we can.” 

While the vaccine brought obvious progress in the fight against coronavirus, Bowens added that it would be critical for the public to keep following public health guidelines to stay safe and avoid overwhelming medical facilities.

"As we see the vaccine coming, we cannot let up in being vigilant in masking, around social distancing, around washing our hands," she said. "I do feel confident in saying that our hospitals are working together, that the community can have confidence.” 

RELATED: Five DC Fire and EMS members to become first in District to get COVID-19 vaccine, officials confirm

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