COVID-19 vaccine expected in Yavapai County for priority health care workers early next month
By the first weeks of December, Yavapai County Community Health Services’ officials expect they will have their first doses of a federally-sanctioned COVID-19 vaccine that can be distributed to priority health care personnel.
The Pfizer pharmaceutical company-manufactured vaccine is in the final rounds of emergency acceptance through the Food and Drug Administration are expected to be ready to ship just after Thanksgiving, said Public Health Coordinator Terri Farneti on Wednesday.
Drug maker Moderna is close on its heels, she noted.
The health department is ready for the arrival of the expected two-dose vaccines that in clinical trials so far have proved to be 95% effective since Nov. 15.
They have a limited supply of storage units suitable for the fragile vaccine that must be kept at 80 degrees below zero prior to distribution. Farneti said.
Health Director Leslie Horton last week predicted the vaccine will initially be dispensed in doses of about 1,000 at a time.
“This is good news,” Farneti said of the emerging timeline that will get vaccines out to those medically closest to those suffering from the impacts of the novel coronavirus behind the global pandemic.
The phase-in process for the vaccine establishes essential health care workers and first responders for the first rounds of vaccine that will require strict rules regarding how they are administered and then tracked for potential side effects. The vaccine requires two doses, 28 days apart.
The second phase will allow public health nurses and community health clinics to dispense doses to medical care workers and those in long-term care facilities. From there, the vaccine will be distributed based on priority needs to include educators, essential workers and then, eventually, the general public, Farneti said. Department officials are now beginning the training process on the full roll-out that is expected to likely unfold through next summer and fall.
Farneti said she expects national, state and local health officials will at some point be authorized to offer off-site vaccine clinics suitable to address the expected demand and follow-up requirements.
With the clinical testing that shows these vaccines to be 95%, Farneti said she sees promise on the near horizon.
“Confidence is high,” she said.