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Inside the plan: How Houston Methodist will distribute COVID-19 vaccines

Houston Methodist is one of several Houston hospitals designated as pre-positioned sites able to receive, store and administer the vaccine as soon as its approved.

HOUSTON — The federal government says it hopes to distribute 40 million COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year. At Houston Methodist, they are gearing up for the historic vaccine distribution.

"We have six different teams working on every aspect of this," said Roberta Schwartz.

Schwartz is Executive Vice President of Houston Methodist. She said the hospital is one of the several pre-positioned sites already approved and able to receive, store and distribute the Pfizer vaccine.

They have ultra cold freezers which will help make it possible.

"We will get the vaccines as soon as the federal government issues an EUA," Schwartz said. "It will ship almost immediately afterward, we believe, and arrive in Houston."

Healthcare workers throughout the Houston Methodist system, especially those providing direct care for COVID-19 patients, will be first in line.

"If we can roll through deployment as quickly as we can, we can get it to as much of Houston soon," Schwartz said.

Houston Methodist already has 14 locations identified for vaccine distribution to the general public.

"I'm going to bet this vaccine initiative goes through the spring and even partway into the summer," Schwartz said.

Memorial Hermann is ready to receive vaccines, too. Texas Children's Hospital said it's also preparing its distribution plans.

Texas Department of State Health Services told KHOU 11 they're still working to identify other hospitals on where to pre-position the vaccines.

"It's not just Methodist, and it's not just the major hospitals," Schwartz said. "We're counting on all these agencies and pharmacies to get out to all different geographies and be able to vaccinate all the individuals that want to get vaccinated."

The FDA could approve Pfizer's vaccine as soon as Dec. 10, so preparedness will continue to ramp up across the Texas Medical Center over the next two weeks.