SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Santa Fe hospital, Christus St. Vincent has received the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. It comes less than 24 hours after the vaccine’s manufacturer Pfizer-BioNTech began national distribution efforts Sunday from the company’s warehouse in Michigan.

A spokesman for Christus St. Vincent, Arturo Delgado said 975 doses of the vaccine arrived at the St. Vincent hospital shortly after 9:00 a.m. Monday, about an hour and a half ahead of schedule. The hospital is expected to begin administering the vaccine to frontline health care and hospital workers at 1:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.

The hospital tells KRQE News 13 all 975 doses are expected to be administered to “frontline employees,” or hospital workers over the coming days. Delgado said Monday several workers within the Christus health system are expected to be inoculated, but other frontline healthcare employees from other health systems will likely follow in the coming days.

The 975 doses will eventually be given to 975 individual people. Delgado says the Christus health system is expected to receive at least another 975 doses in the coming weeks to cover the second round of doses that will need to be administered, as Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart.

Delgado says the St. Vincent hospital in Santa Fe is among the first of around 145 hospitals in the country to receive shipments of the vaccine Monday. The vaccine has to be stored in an ultra-cold storage unit at -80 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent degradation. Christus St. Vincent’s says its freezer can hold 50,000 doses of the vaccine.

Other New Mexico hospitals including Lovelace Health System, University of New Mexico Hospital, and Presbyterian are expected to receive COVID-19 vaccine shipments in the coming days. At a news conference Monday, Lovelace’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vesta Sandoval said the hospital expected to receive a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, with distribution expected to begin Wednesday.

Administrators from Albuquerque’s three major hospitals all said Monday under the emergency use authorization the FDA has granted for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, hospital systems are not allowed to force their employees to take the vaccine, meaning the vaccine will not be mandatory. Workers who want the vaccine will be required to opt-in.

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