’Additional vaccines for the community will come’: More vaccinations expected to be made available on a weekly basis
TFHS distributes first round of vaccines to front-line health care workers
The Tahoe Forest Health System received the first round of vaccines and began administering them to health care workers this week.
Paige Thomason, director of Marketing and Communications, said the system received a percentage of the 975 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provided to Nevada County by the state, though she declined to say how many. According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine requires recipients to receive two shots in the upper arm, 21 days apart.
Workers unload a portion of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provided to Nevada County. The vaccine requires two shots in the upper arm, 21 days apart. | Submitted to The Union
“We only received a very small amount, and it’s in the very early roll out stages,” Thomason said. “The supply of the vaccine is very limited.”
According to the California Department of Public Health’s website, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being administered to health care workers and then residents of long-term care facilities. Over 50% of Nevada County’s 44 COVID-19-related deaths took place in convalescent homes — 18 in the Golden Empire Nursing Home and 11 in Spring Hill Manor Convalescent Home.
“So the first group of people that will receive the vaccine are health care workers,” Thomason said. “We’ve done some of our staff already.”
Thomason said the county’s prioritization of the limited vaccines reflect the state Department of Public Health’s recommendations. The phases and tiers within those guidelines help prioritize and “sub-prioritize” the vaccine’s distribution beginning with health care workers at the highest risk in regions with the highest case numbers.
“The first priority were the frontline workers that wanted it,” Thomason said.
Thomason said vaccines meant for the community at large have not yet been given to the hospital, and the health system has yet to be informed as to when more will arrive.
Thomason said hospitals must assess their capacity to prepare for larger shipments of the vaccine when it does arrive.
“All California hospitals are in the process of all the logistics of storing and administering the vaccine,” Thomason said.
As of Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said 70,258 Californians had been vaccinated and at least 437,900 doses of the two vaccines had arrived in the state.
According a tweet by Newsom, California’s initial allotment of the Pfizer vaccine will go to a small fraction of that state’s 2.4 million health care workers.
Thomason said vaccines for the general public have not been made available yet.
“The additional vaccines for the community will come,” Thomason said. “We do not have a date of arrival, but it’s something we will obviously be monitoring. As soon as we get the vaccine for the community, we will roll out the plan with other agencies.”
Jill Blake, the county’s Public Health director, said in a press release last week that she expects more vaccinations to be made available on a weekly basis.
“Although our initial allocations will be small, we expect that soon we will begin to receive vaccine allocations each week,” Blake said. “This is very welcome news, as the arrival of the vaccine indicates the beginning of a pharmaceutical intervention that will eventually end this pandemic and allow us to return to normalcy.”
“The county is the one who follows public health issues on a bigger scale,” Thomason said. ”For our purposes, we know that these vaccines are approved by the government. That’s what we’ve received and that’s what we’ll use.“
Thomason said the health system is particularly grateful to be able to supply the defenders of public health with the protection they need to be able to continue to serve their community.
“We’re feeling hopeful that we have the vaccine at all,” Thomason explained, adding “especially that we have a supply for our very courageous health care workers.”
Thomason said although the vaccine allows the public to take a proactive approach to this pandemic, the need to remain on the defensive, to protect oneself and one’s neighbor, remains paramount.
“I just want to remind people, especially now, to be vigilant about adhering to any of the county orders regarding staying at home as well as social distancing and wearing masks, washing your hands and doing the things you know prevent the disease to remember in this time,” Thomason said.
Thomason said despite the county’s purple tier status, Tahoe Forest Health System’s affiliated care facilities are open to address non-COVID-19 medical concerns.
“We’re here to take care of the public, Thomason said. “We want to encourage people not to delay. If they need medical care, they should seek medical care.”
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for the Sierra Sun and The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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