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TEXARKANA, Texas — Two local hospitals plan to receive, manage and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine to their front-line workers in the coming days and weeks.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System and Wadley Regional Medical Center officials said late Monday the vaccines for their health care employees will be available, but not mandatory.

"We are confident the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective," said Dr. Loren K. Robinson, vice president of medical affairs for CHRISTUS St. Michael. "Though there is still a way to go, this process hopefully represents the beginning of the end of COVID-19."

CHRISTUS Health has a process in place for reviewing the safety and efficacy of new drugs that receive Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, according to a hospital officials.

Other Northeast Texas CHRISTUS campuses that will receive the vaccine are in Tyler and Longview.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be given in two doses: an initial injection and then a booster shot, normally 21-28 days later (depending on the vaccine administered), according to a CHRISTUS St. Michael press release.

Research indicates minor side effects similar to the flu shot, such as low-grade fever and redness, are possible.

Shelby Brown, Wadley marketing director, said the vaccine will be encouraged for all of their front-line workers.

"WRMC has submitted an application to be a vaccination facility and has a plan in place to administer vaccines to our front-line workers who are directly involved in the care of COVID patients. Vaccinations will be administered in a phased approach according to criteria outlined by the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization," she told the Gazette late Monday.

Brown said it is possible the vaccine time frame for Wadley's workers could begin as early as next week, but they would receive notification after the Emergency Use Authorization is signed.

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