February 2021

Understanding Vaccine Timeline and Questions

By zach friend, county supervisor

TUES | FEB | 2
Supervisor Zach Friend hosts a COVID -19 Tele-Town Hall,  6-7 pm

Supervisor Zach Friend will host a tele-town hall on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, from 6-7 pm with Dr. David Ghilarducci, EMS Medical Director and Deputy Health Officer for the County of Santa Cruz. Dr. Ghilarducci is a board-certified EMS Medical Director with extensive public safety and front line experience. Dr. Ghilarducci was previously a Fire Captain and Acting Battalion Chief with the Santa Clara County Fire Department and after transitioning to medicine served as president of the Emergency Medical Director’s Association of California, EMS Medical Director of the Santa Clara County EMS Agency, and later co-director of the Stanford University EMS Fellowship Program. He is also an Emergency/Urgent Care Physician with Kaiser-Permanente. 

He is one of the leads in the County’s COVID-19 response and will speak about local hospital capacities, the latest vaccine information, local and state COVID trends, and more.

Ample time will be made available for your questions. Call-in info is the same:

Call in: (831) 454-2222

Meeting ID: 145384#

COVID-19 continues to have significant impacts on our local community. As of the time of writing this article, our County has experienced approximately 13,000 local cases, over 110 deaths and has little to no ICU bed availability. Vaccines are one of the strongest elements of hope and distribution has started in Santa Cruz County. While information is constantly being updated I wanted to provide some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the vaccine and timeline. Please visit the County’s vaccine website to look at the latest information in case things have changed: .santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus – click on the “Vaccine” tab.

How Effective are the Vaccines?
The vaccines developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were approximately 95 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, according to phase 3 trial results.

How are Vaccines Distributed?
In partnership with the California Department of Public Health and Center for Diseases Control there are currently four avenues to distribute the vaccine.

  1. Federal Pharmacy Partnership: Facilities work directly with local pharmacies (CVS and Walgreens) to receive and administer the vaccine. Facilities such as long term care, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities fall within this category.
  2. Multi-County Entities: These are large healthcare systems, such as Dignity Health, Kaiser Parmanente, Sutter) that coordinate with the California Department of Public Health directly to receive and administer their allocation of the vaccine.
  3. CalVAX State Distribution: CalVax allows individual providers to enroll in the California COVID-19 Vaccination Program and order/administer vaccines. These are for independent physicians or dentists and others.
  4. Local Health Jurisdictions: County Public Health coordinates directly with the California Department of Public Health to receive and distribute and/or administer for all other facilities that aren’t within the Federal Pharmacy Partnership or Multi-County Entities categories – regardless of insurance. This may include agricultural workers, for example, or others that fall outside of standard health care settings.

When will I receive a vaccine?
Vaccines are being distributed through a tier system that provides for priority through risk and other factors determined by the California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control. At this point, there is no way to know exactly when vaccines will become widely available enough for the entire community to be vaccinated or even when, with the limited weekly distributions that are coming into our County, some of the highest priority tiers will be fully vaccinated. While the tiers have been modified recently by the state, we are currently in Phase 1A which includes acute and healthcare staff, assisted living facility staff/residents, EMTs, paramedics, dialysis center staff, home health and in-home supportive services, public health, primary care staff, Federal Qualified Health Clinics & urgent care clinics, dental/oral health workers, lab workers, pharmacy staff, specialty clinics and those that are 65 years and up.

If I am a PAMF, Dignity or Kaiser Permanente Member How Do I Schedule an Appointment?
Eligible Kaiser Permanente members can call 866-454-8855 or use their online portal at mydoctor.kaiserpermanente.org/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine to schedule an appointment. Sutter/PAMF patients, in the current Phase, can contact 844-987-6115 or visit sutterhealth.org/covid-vaccine for an appointment. Dignity Health patients in the current Phase can contact your primary care provider to schedule an appointment or use the patient portal. For the latest info you can also visit dhmf.org/dominican.

How Many Doses are Needed for Each Person?
The current COVID-19 vaccines available use two shots. and you must use same vaccine brand for both. The shots are given several weeks apart. According to the CDC, the first shot primes the immune system, helping it recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response.

How are they Stored?
Both of the current available vaccines require very cold storage. The Pfizer vaccine requires storage at -70 to -80 degrees Celsius (which requires a special freezer and/or dry ice for storage). The Moderna is stored at approximately -20 degrees Celsius, which can be done more readily.

How can I get more Information?
Visit the local vaccine website at .santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus (click on the Vaccine tab) or you can call County Health at 454-4242. Additionally, you can visit the State site at cdph.ca.gov.

As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have on this (or any other County issue). I’m maintaining regular updates on social media at .facebook.com/supervisorfriend and during the shelter-in-place order I’m hosting regular tele-townhalls with County and community leaders monthly on the first Tuesday from 6-7 pm. The call in information for the town halls is 454-2222 with the Meeting ID: 145384# – you are welcome to speak about any issue during the town halls or you can always call me at 454-2200.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *