Nearly 4,000 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine arrived at an unrevealed location in Stanislaus County on Thursday, Dec. 17. The vaccines were distributed to the five major acute care hospitals around the county: Memorial, Emanuel, Doctors, Kaiser and Oak Valley.
“This is a great day, and a rare glimmer of hope during these difficult times,” said Stanislaus County Public Health Officer, Dr. Julie Vaishampayan. “The vaccine will be a vital component of ending this pandemic and restoring our communities.”
The doses will be made available to essential workers that fall under the Phase 1a Tier 1 plan that was forged in collaboration by the California Department of Public Health and the Federal Government. The tier includes health care workers who work in high-risk settings such as emergency rooms and ICU’s.
In a press release from the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, county workers can be seen unboxing the vaccine in front of one of two medical grade freezers that were donated by Stanislaus State University. An additional medical grade freezer was also donated to Stanislaus County by Fresno State University.
“We [used these freezers] to store our plant and animal samples, and microorganisms for long-term storage,” said Molecular Biologist and Professor at Stanislaus State University, Dr. Jim Youngblom. “These freezers are very rare and expensive, and they have become really hard to come by because of the vaccine now starting to get distributed.” Dr. Youngblom also mentioned how the freezers are four times colder than the average household freezer, reaching temperatures of minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit.
The county is expected to place weekly requests for the Pfizer vaccine, which is purchased 975 doses at a time, to the California Department of Public Health.
With the recent approval of the Moderna vaccine by the FDA and the Western States Scientific Safety Review (which includes Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada,) it is expected that 627,000 doses will be making their way to California.
“It’s very good news,” said Governor Newsom. Who also said, “While California is in some of the darkest days of our COVID-19 surge, with too many families grieving lost loved ones, there is light as more vaccines are approved for distribution. With the Moderna vaccine in circulation, we have another tool to fight this deadly disease. I am grateful to the best-in-the-nation scientific experts who lent their time and expertise to ensuring that Californians can have confidence in the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.”
Like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine will also require two doses consisting of a priming dose, and a booster shot. The booster shot for the Pfizer vaccine is given 21 days after the priming dose, and the Moderna vaccine is spread 28 days. The Moderna vaccine will also help logistically, as it can be stored in regular, non-medical grade freezers. The temperature change will help drastically since most Doctors offices and Pharmacies will be able to store the vaccines in their freezers, making it easier for the general public to get access once the top tiers have been covered.
The Stanislaus County Public Health Agency says that a vaccine for the general public will require some waiting time, and that citizens should still practice COVID-19 measures set by the CDC and state.
“It will still be a few months before the vaccine is broadly available to everyone. It is vital that everyone, even those vaccinated, continue the use of primary prevention measures, such as staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and washing hands often. Stanislaus County Public Health continues to work closely with all our partners in the Emergency Operations Center to address the COVID-19 pandemic through guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, and other partners.” For more information on the cases in Stanislaus County, please visit: SCHSA.ORG/CORONAVIRUS