He arrived Thursday morning in a FedEx delivery vehicle, in a large white box, packed in dry ice – a vaccine awaited by Sonoma County residents since the local pandemic broke out nine months ago and less than 12 months ago. at the first report of the new coronavirus to global health officials.
With clear enthusiasm and hope, local hospital and health hospital officials said the arrival of the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine marked a historic turning point in the fight against the virus, which is now spreading in the community at an unprecedented rate.
“This is our ticket out of the pandemic,” said Bill Carroll, medical director at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital. “We are really excited to start this process. Our staff who have done such a great job caring for these patients are very eager to receive the vaccine, because they know it is protective, I know it is the key to starting to get out of the pandemic. “
About 4,875 doses entered the county on Thursday, a day after local health officials reported more than 600 new cases daily – almost double the previous record of 343 cases reported just two weeks ago. Dr. Sundari Mase, the county’s health officer, described this week as “the darkest days of the pandemic.”
County spokesman Paul Gullixson said the county’s mood among hospital and health care officials is one of hope and exuberance. “I think you could hear collective joy in the county – people are very excited,” he said, adding that given the daily number of reported cases, “this is the shot in the arm we all needed.”
Although significant, the initial transport of the vaccine is enough to start inoculating only a quarter of the 19,000 people placed at the head of the line to get a shot. The nearly 4,900 doses received on Thursday, all the first doses of a two-dose vaccination process, will be administered to priority health workers in the county. The second shipment of 2,925 doses of Pfizer is expected to arrive next week, county officials said.
An advisory committee of the federal Food and Drug Administration on Thursday recommended the emergency approval of another coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna. The move is a clear indication that the FDA will approve the vaccine, and local health officials expect Moderna’s deliveries to be soon.
“This gives us hope that there is an end in sight, that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Mase said on Thursday. “But we have a lot of work to do. We need to vaccinate a lot of people … and it requires a second dose, which is a challenge. But in public health we see it as, hopefully, a turning point “.
Dr. Kismet Baldwin, the county’s deputy health officer, said the first doses of the vaccine will be given to health care workers in the top-tier priority group defined by the state public health department. These include workers with direct exposure to patients in acute care hospitals, psychiatric emergency facilities, home and resident staff, nurses and dialysis center staff.
Residents at skilled nursing homes are expected to receive the vaccine through a federal distribution agreement with Walgreens and CVS pharmacies starting Dec. 28, Baldwin said.
Officials said the number of health workers at local acute care hospitals is 8,945; psychiatric and behavioral health staff is 360; the staff of qualified nurses and residential care institutions for the elderly is 2,800. The number of residents in long-term care homes fluctuates, but there are about 5,500 such beds in the county.
There are 1,621 paramedics, WHO and others providing emergency medical services and 61 workers at local dialysis centers, county officials said.
Dr. Chad Krilich, chief medical officer for both Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals, said they will begin vaccinating front-line staff for several hours starting Friday morning. Krilich said the vaccine comes amid a growing number of hospitalizations due to increased local transmission of the virus.
According to the latest data from the State Department of Public Health, there were 65 positive COVID-19 patients in the hospitals in Sonoma County, of which 11 received intensive care. A record low of 76 patients with COVID-19 in the hospital was reported on Monday, surpassing the peak of 60 hospitalizations related to COVID-19 at the end of July, at the height of the last wave of cases.
“I think there is a lot of hope,” Krilich said. “I talked to the caregivers and people are very excited (the vaccine) is here and they can start vaccination. It will take some time. “