As Iowans began to receive the first allocated doses of COVID-19 vaccines Monday, Union County continues to await its vaccines, which are expected to arrive the week of Dec. 21, according to a press release from Greater Regional Health.
Union County Public Health Nurse Robin Sevier said the county’s first allocation will include 400 doses and that they will be administered in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
According to cdc.gov, the proposed groups for Phase 1a vaccination allocation include healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. The CDC lists examples of the approximately 21 million healthcare personnel nationwide as being those who work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, home healthcare, pharmacies, emergency medical services and public health. Their website defines healthcare personnel as “paid and unpaid people serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.”
Those in the second Phase 1a priority group include approximately three million long-term care facility residents nationwide, such as those who live in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities or those who live long-term in other residential care. The CDC defines long-term care facility residents as “adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.”
The CDC reported that 243,000 healthcare personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., with a total of 858 deaths as of Nov. 30. More than 69,000 older adults in skilled nursing facilities have died from the virus as of Nov. 15. And based on 23 states, 5,469 assisted living residents have passed away due to the virus as of Oct. 15. The CDC website stated that long-term care facility residents and staff have accounted for 6% of cases and 40% of deaths in the U.S. as of Nov. 24.
According to Greater Regional Health, when public health receives its doses, their goal “is to vaccinate as many healthcare team members as possible in a safe and efficient way,” and that once the vaccines are received, their healthcare teams will move quickly to provide them to those in the Phase 1a groups. Sevier said that at this point, there will be no cost for the vaccine.
“And until we actually get the emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine, we don’t know all the facts yet until we get that approval from the federal level,” she said.
Sevier said a Moderna presentation will be given to Greater Regional Health staff to inform them on more, moving forward.
According to modernatx.com, Moderna completed the first clinical batch of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 Feb. 7 and the first participant in their Phase 1 study was dosed with the vaccine March 16. Their Phase 1 study included 45 healthy individuals and was purposed to determine the safety and immune system response of their new vaccines. Since then, Moderna has completed their Phase 2 study — with 300 participants ages 18 to 55 and 300 participants aged 55 and above, made an agreement with the U.S. government to supply an initial 100 million doses and completed enrollment in their Phase 3 study with 30,000 participants enrolled.
The Des Moines Register reported that the two-dose Pfizer vaccine began to be administered to Iowa’s healthcare workers Monday. Sevier said Moderna’s vaccine to be received by Union County will also be administered in two doses, with the second vaccination being given 28 days after the first. And while the initial allocation of vaccines for the county is only 400 doses, Sevier said there will be future shipments. Details regarding the times and locations for the CDC recommended priority groups to receive vaccines has not yet been determined.
According to Greater Regional Health, as vaccine availability increases, the hospital and public health will be in communication with the public when community vaccinations for COVID-19 can begin, advising those in the community to “continue to stay diligent and do what is best for you and your loved ones while the phases of the vaccination process develop.”