Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Health Care Workers Excited About Vaccines
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Even the bear at The Argyros is masked up against the coronavirus.
   
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

COVID GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

South Central Public Health District is preparing to get this region’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine in the next few days.

But authorities are asking the public not to call to find out when they can get it.

 
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Blaine County reported eight new cases of coronavirus on Monday. I has now had 1,485 confirmed and probably cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The county has also lost one more resident to COVID-19, bringing its COVID death toll to 10.
 

“We are thrilled people will have protection through this vaccine, but it’s important to remember that we won’t have enough doses for most of our residents until this spring or summer at the earliest,” said Josh Jensen, SCPHD public health program manager. “Please keep your guard up. Keep taking precautions. We have many more months to go and many people we still need to protect.”

South Central public Health expects to get 975 doses in its first shipment. The first doses of the vaccine created by Pfizer and BioNTech are prioritized for hospital staff and outpatient clinic staff who are providing care for COVID-19 patients, as stipulated by Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Committee.

Since the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses and timing of future shipments are unknown, SCPHD will hold back half of the provided vaccine doses until another shipment is confirmed to ensure those who have received the first dose have access to a second.

“This is not enough vaccine to offer to every one of our frontline workers, but it’s a good start,” said Jensen. “We are hopeful additional vaccine shipments will arrive in the coming weeks. But for now, we are doing everything we can to make this first shipment of vaccine cover as much of our district as possible.”

 
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Idaho reported 1,038 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday for a total of 122,217 confirmed or probable cases since the pandemic began. Nineteen more Idahoans have died of COVID, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,194.
 

SCPHD is working with local hospitals to schedule vaccine clinics for their staffs. Because the vaccine requires -80 degree temperatures to remain viable, the health district will not ship doses to hospitals until they are prepared to handle the vaccine.

SCPHD will provide regular updates regarding when the vaccine will be available to the general public.

VACCINE ROLLOUT EXCITES ST. LUKE’S EMPLOYEES

St. Luke’s Health Systems was hoping to get vaccines by Monday afternoon and plans to begin vaccinating employees by the end of the week. Employees have been offered two webinars answering questions about the vaccine. They will be sent emails to schedule vaccines as soon as they have them in place.

Hospital officials do not have any information about if and when the Moderna vaccine, which is expected to be approved later this week, will be shipped to Idaho.

Dr. Laura McGeorge, medical director for primary and specialty care at St. Luke’s, said she doesn’t know how many of the hospital system’s 15,000 employees want vaccines, nor does she know how many employees are in the first tier.

But, she said, there’s a lot of excitement about the vaccines.

“It’s incredibly exciting that this vaccine is coming out. I have seen huge interest in this vaccine—I’m getting multiple emails every day.”

St. Luke’s will give its vaccines first to doctors, nurses, housekeepers, even those who transport portable x-ray machines to high-risk areas, such as emergency rooms, COVID units and intensive care units.

The Boise hospital has ultra-cold freezers that can accommodate the Pfizer doses that require -80 degree storage. The hospital plans to send doses to St. Luke’s Wood River and McCall using dry ice to keep the vaccine cold.

Researchers do not yet know whether the vaccine will decrease transmission of COVID and help provide herd immunity, although they suspect that’s the case.

What they do know is that everyone who gets the vaccine is going to benefit from having that vaccine, said McGeorge.

McGeorge noted that the natural infection has a mortality rate between 1 percent and 2 percent and that it also leaves many of those who get it with long-term lung, brain and other problems. Given that, getting a vaccine is less risky than the risks of getting the disease.

“It will help the individual who gets the vaccine most,” she said. “As we get more people vaccinated, we hope it will take some of the pressure off the hospitals and other health care providers.”

 

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