With a vaccine just days away, Summit County officials present a distribution plan
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct information about the number of vaccines the county will be able to administer at the point of distribution site.
With two novel coronavirus vaccines just days away from approval, Summit County officials already have begun preparing for vaccine distribution.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have submitted requests for an emergency-use authorization on their COVID-19 vaccines. Four other companies are in the trial process for vaccines, as well. The Food and Drug Administration will be meeting with Pfizer and Moderna on Thursday, Dec. 10, and Dec. 17 to approve the vaccines.
At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Dec. 8, Summit County Nurse Manager Sara Lopez said the county is anticipating receiving the first batch of vaccines a week after they are approved.
The county will be following the state’s plan for vaccine distribution, which includes vaccinating health care workers in the initial phase, Lopez said.
Lopez said the state estimates it will receive 46,800 doses of the vaccine, which will be administered in two doses. She would not say how many of those doses Summit County will receive; however, she did say it will be a small number.
“We have an estimation from state health as to what we will get — and this is so unknown pending all of these pieces falling into place — we’re hoping within a number of weeks being able to vaccinate at least those (inpatient) health care workers that have the most contact and most risk of getting COVID,” she said.
In the second phase of vaccine distribution, the county plans to give vaccines to pharmacies and providers that are involved in Vaccines for Children programs, which includes the Summit Community Care Clinic and Centura Health Physicians Group. In that phase, higher-risk individuals still will be prioritized for vaccinations.
Lopez said the vaccines for children programs create high standards for vaccine storage, administration and documentation.
Then, once the vaccines are able to be widely produced, they will be available for anyone who wants one, as with any other vaccine.
When it comes to actually distributing the vaccine, the county plans to host vaccination drives, which it practiced in October with the flu vaccine.
The county’s bus barn, located off Peak One drive in Frisco, will serve as the point of distribution site, Lopez said. Once the county has a sufficient number of vaccines, it will be able to vaccinate about 2,500 people every two weeks at that site.
“We’re being fairly conservative with our estimation,” Lopez said. “If we were to get considerably more vaccines, we could really broaden that number.”
At the meeting, the board also discussed the county’s communication plan for the vaccine. Commissioner Thomas Davidson said it’s important for people to realize the vaccine is not a cure for the virus.
“It doesn’t make you well once you’ve caught it,” he said. “I’m thinking some people don’t understand vaccinations even well enough to understand that this will not cure you if you catch COVID.”
Public health spokesperson Nicole Valentine said the department is working to create ad and video campaigns to educate and encourage people to get the vaccine.
The county is also working to add a vaccination page to the COVID-19 section of its website, which can be reached at SummitCountyCo.gov/coronavirus.
County Manager Scott Vargo said all of the preparations are an effort to make sure the county can meet all of the demands once vaccines are available.
“We don’t have a vaccine in hand, but we are well prepared for when we do,” he said.
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