SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Physicians from Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health discussed their plans and released details on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution for frontline caregivers Thursday morning.

The long-awaited vaccine is anticipated to make its way to Utah healthcare systems as early as mid-December and from what doctors have been told, a few thousand vaccine doses will be shipped to several Utah hospitals in the first round of distribution.

Dr. Tamara Sheffield, Medical Director of Community Health and Prevention with Intermountain Healthcare shares that two vaccines have been submitted to the FDA for approval–one from Pfizer and the other from Moderna. The Pfizer vaccine will be the one to first reach Utah frontline caregivers.

The physicians from Intermountain Healthcare and the U of U Health said that whenever the time comes that they do receive the vaccines, they are prepared with the appropriate space and -80 degree freezers needed to store the delicate vaccine doses. Pharmacists and others who will handle the vaccine are currently being trained on how to handle it when it arrives in Utah.

But within the healthcare systems, who can expect to receive the vaccine first? The doctors say that vaccines will first go to caregivers who are at most risk and who are directly in contact with COVID patients.

“We will have to target those who are most at risk which includes our nurses, doctors, technicians, therapist, all of whom work at the bedside with our COVID patients,” says Dr. Kristin Dascomb.

Also on the list to receive the vaccine first will be those within hospital housekeeping and anesthesiologists who are involved in risky procedures.

Dr. Andrew Pavia of U of U Health addressed the concerns of those who are skeptical and hesitant to accept the COVID-19 vaccine by saying the trials of these vaccines have included about 40,000 people in each trial and have been thoroughly researched. He also says that the FDA’s process with the vaccine is one that ‘we can have faith in’. However, doctors say they are unsure of the long-term impacts of the vaccine.

Dr. Pavia also mentions that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are just as safe as any other vaccine out there and that if there have been side effects, that they have been very mild.

As of now, healthcare workers within Intermountain and U of U Health will have the option to opt-out of receiving a vaccine. However, that may change in the future once the vaccine is fully licensed.