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EPHC rolls out vaccine to skilled nursing facilities using Pfizer and Moderna

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

Working in conjunction with Sierra County, Eastern Plumas Health Care vaccinated residents of its skilled nursing facility in Loyalton today.

The healthcare facility, based in Portola, has skilled nursing facilities on its Portola campus, as well as in Loyalton, which is in Sierra County. Last week, EPHC used the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate 75 of its hospital and clinic staff in Portola, and today it used an unallocated portion of Sierra County’s vaccine at its Loyalton skilled nursing facility.

Michelle Romero, the infection control nurse for EPHC, has not only been administering the vaccine but coordinating its rollout.

On Monday she drove to the Plumas County Public Health Agency in Quincy to pick up 40 doses of the Moderna vaccine. So far 10 doses have been used on employees, with plans to vaccinate at the skilled nursing facility in Portola tomorrow.

When asked if there’s a difference in working with the two vaccines, Romero said that the Moderna vaccine is ready to go straight out of the vial, whereas the Pfizer vaccine needs to be reconstituted. “But they both have to be used within six hours once you puncture the vial,” she said.

The Moderna vials contain 10 doses so it’s important to have individuals ready to be vaccinated. When asked what happens if someone backs out or isn’t available as scheduled, she said, “That has happened and we have a waiting list.”

She said she likes to vaccinate in groups of five, which makes it easier to check individuals in, maintain social distancing, monitor the individuals for reactions, and sanitize between groups.

Romero received her vaccine last week and said the only effect she felt was a sore arm for about a day and a half. She said that the second round of the vaccine is scheduled to be administered around Jan. 12 for those vaccinated last Tuesday.

When asks how she is going to keep track of everyone as the rollout proceeds since a second dose is necessary for both Pfizer and Moderna, Romero said, “I have a whole spreadsheet.”

As the local healthcare districts finish vaccinating their staff members and skilled nursing residents, the onus will turn to Public Health to begin rolling out the vaccine to other tiers of individuals according to state guidelines.


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