By the end of the week, Riverside County should receive more than 14,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, officials announced Monday.
“Receiving the first doses of vaccine for our front-line healthcare workers is a day we’ve been looking forward to,” said county Supervisor Karen Spiegel, incoming chair of the Board of Supervisors. “As we receive more vaccine in the coming weeks and months, we’ll be able to offer vaccinations to more of our workforce and start to see big movement in recovering from this terrible pandemic.”
According to the Riverside University Health System, the initial shipments of vaccines are slated to arrive Friday and will be distributed to local hospitals and public health clinics. Altogether, they number about two dozen.
The size of the shipments will be anywhere from 14,000 to 15,000 vials, officials said.
“With so much grim news lately with the pandemic, it is great that we can give the public something so positive that we believe can turn this around,” county Director of Public Health Kim Saruwatari said. “We are looking forward to a time in the not-to-distant future when we can vaccinate tens of thousands of our neighbors against this virus.”
Saruwatari will be providing additional details during the board’s meeting Tuesday morning.
RUHS said that under state and federal guidelines, the Phase 1-A tier will be the first in line eligible to receive inoculations. That tier comprises health care workers at acute care facilities with “direct patient contact who have potential for direct or indirect exposure.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration signed off on the Pfizer vaccine late last week, paving the way for mass distribution. There was no mention of the county’s potential receipt of the vaccine manufactured by Moderna.
After distribution of vaccines to health care workers, skilled nursing facilities and long-term care staff and residents is completed, priority will then move to “essential workers” and then to people at highest risk of severe illness from the virus, such as seniors or those with underlying health conditions, according to officials.
Release of vaccines to the general public is not expected until spring at the earliest.
The vaccination program is not without opponents. So-called “anti-vaxxers” have periodically appeared before the Board of Supervisors in recent months, denouncing the expedited vaccination development as potentially fraught with hazards.
Pfizer issued a statement noting “the safety and efficacy of vaccines … is reviewed and determined by expert regulatory agencies around the world. FDA has established clear guidance for the development of COVID-19 vaccines. FDA’s guidance and criteria are based on the scientific and medical principles necessary to clearly demonstrate the safety and efficacy of potential COVID-19 vaccines.”
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the first clinical trials for the SARS-Cov-2 vaccine began in late April and have been ongoing since, with about 100,000 people participating.
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