The Calvary Is Here! Benton County Prepares For Vaccine

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
The Benton County Health Department received 975 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, December 17.  This was ordered in advance for Benton County Healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff.  After the order had been placed the decision was made by the federal government that long-term care residents and staff would be vaccinated by Walgreens and CVS pharmacies.
Due to logistics and storage requirements Benton County Health Department would not have been able to use the vaccine in the allotted time frame required by Pfizer, so the vaccine was redistributed to Bothwell Regional Health Center that had the required  storage equipment.  Bothwell is vaccinating all the Benton County residents that fall under Phase 1a  (High-risk health workers and First Responders) of the Phased Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines.
According to Benton County Health Department Director Linda Viebrock, the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer must be stored in a low grade freezer then when it is thawed it must be used within six hours.  Since Benton County does not have the correct freezer, the vaccine was sent to Bothwell Hospital in Sedalia to be stored.
“We ordered enough vaccine to take care of all our health care workers as well as first responders and long term care residents, but then the federal government stated that all long term care residents and staff would be vaccinated by Walgreen and CVS pharmacies so we had too many doses and it must be used within a certain time frame,” said Viebrock.  
Viebrock and members of her staff were vaccinated at Bothwell on Monday morning.
“I was vaccinated at 6:30 AM on Monday and I am feeling fine,” said Viebrock.
All Benton County health care workers are encouraged to make an appointment at Bothwell and receive the vaccination.
“Long term care residents and staff will begin vaccinations on December 28,” said Viebrock.
The Benton County Health Department should begin receiving more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna in the coming weeks.  The Moderna vaccine does not have to be frozen and will arrive in incriments of 100 doses.
CDC is part of Operation Warp Speed, a partnership led by the U.S. government to help develop, manufacture, and distribute millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses as quickly as possible while ensuring those vaccines are safe and effective.
• Most COVID-19 vaccine products will be provided in 2-dose series. Some vaccine products will require special storage and handling, like ultra-cold storage).
• Monitoring vaccine safety and building trust and educating healthcare providers will be critical to ensuring high vaccine coverage.
• The goal is for every person in the United States to get a COVID-19 vaccine, unless there are medical reasons they can’t.
• On Monday, December 14, 2020, the initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine were shipped to sites nationwide and vaccine administration began.
• Jurisdictions, in coordination with the U.S. government, have worked to plan for, distribute, and administer COVID19 vaccines. These are essential next steps to protect Americans, reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and help restore some normalcy.
• CDC continues to work with all 64 U.S. jurisdictions to help them get ready to receive and administer vaccines.
• There will be bumps in the road as the COVID-19 vaccination program is rolled out – that is to be expected.
• Public health experts have extensive experience with vaccine distribution and administration and will work to quickly overcome obstacles.
• On December 2, the CDC Director signed Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations that vaccination in the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program should be offered to 1) healthcare personnel and 2) residents of long-term care facilities.
• It is estimated there are 21 million people working in the healthcare industry and approximately 3 million people living in long-term care facilities. 
o Healthcare personnel include all paid and unpaid people serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.
Long-term care facilities provide a spectrum of medical and non-medical services to frail or older adults unable to reside independently in the community.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with CVS and Walgreens to offer on-site COVID19 vaccination services for nursing homes and assisted living facilities residents once they are recommended to receive vaccine.
• The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program provides end-to-end management of the COVID-19 vaccination process.
• The official launch date of the LTC Program is December 21, 2020, for jurisdictions that opted to use Pfizer vaccine for the program.
• More than 1,100 vaccination clinics at long-term care facilities across the country are scheduled to occur on this day.
• The program launch date for jurisdictions that chose to use the Moderna vaccine is scheduled for December 28, once an EUA has been issued by the FDA.
• These launch dates were chosen to account for the time needed to ensure adequate vaccine supply is available and the time pharmacy partners will need to schedule and coordinate clinics at each facility.
• The timing also allows pharmacies and facilities to work with residents and their families to understand the vaccines and agree to participate before the clinics begin.
• All jurisdictions have opted into the Long-Term Care Program. Most have already activated the program for their jurisdiction.
• In some states and counties, vaccination services are being provided through state plans in addition to the federal program.
• Vaccine safety, both initially and during extended use, is an essential part of a successful national vaccination effort.
• Vaccine safety monitoring is always a priority, even when the safety of vaccines was studied in robust clinical trials.
• The federal government remains committed to ensuring that public health officials, healthcare providers, and the public have accurate and timely information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
• CDC has multiple, complimentary vaccine safety systems in place to monitor and assess adverse events. As all reports are evaluated, some vaccine safety signals will likely be detected that will need further study. Vaccine safety signals are possible safety problems that may be related to vaccination.
• The U.S. government has multiple vaccine safety systems that identify signals and evaluate in depth whether the signal is related to vaccination or just coincidence.
• U.S. vaccine safety monitoring systems are designed to rapidly detect even the slightest signal, so detecting signals means the system is working.
• These systems have been in place for more than 30 years and they are used to detect problems with every vaccine that is recommended for the American public.
• These systems are similar to other health screening systems, such as mammograms and blood tests, which alert healthcare providers, public health workers, and patients to the need to look at something further with additional tests.
• CDC will continue to be vigilant in monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and will be transparent in its communications with the public.
• Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening serious allergic reaction.
• Appropriate medical treatment for severe allergic reactions must be immediately available if an anaphylactic reaction occurs following administration of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
• CDC recommends healthcare providers administering the vaccine considers whether a patient has a history of severe allergic reaction to a vaccine other than the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or to any therapy injected into muscle, into a blood vein, or under the skin.
• People with a history of these types of severe allergic reactions can still receive the Pfizer-BioNTech
COVID-19 vaccine. First, the provider must assess the full history and nature of the allergic reaction to determine if a reaction to this vaccine is likely.
• CDC currently recommends that all people who receive Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine be observed following vaccination.
• People with a history of serious allergic reactions for any reason should be observed for 30 minutes.
• All other people should be observed for 15 minutes.
While health care workers, first responders and long term care patients are all included in Phase 1; Phase 2 will focus on K-12 teachers and school staff, critical workers in high risk settings, people of all ages with underlying conditions, people in homeless shelters, people in prisons and detention centers, all older adults not covered in Phase 1.  Phase 3 will cover young adults, children and workers in occupations important to the functioning of society.