By Debra Moore
Plumas County Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff announced that 195 doses of the Pfizer vaccine could arrive in the county as early as this Friday. During this morning’s Board of Supervisors meeting Dec. 15, he said that the vaccine is arriving at Mercy Medical Center in Redding and staff would travel there this Friday or Monday to pick it up.
His office is coordinating with the three Plums hospitals for distribution. Since this is the Pfizer vaccine, which requires extremely cold temperatures, a freezer that will accommodate the vaccine is expected to arrive in the county in late January. Until then, the vaccine doses will be carefully monitored and distributed expeditiously.
Woodruff anticipates that the Moderna vaccine will follow soon after and the initial share for Plumas is 200 doses.
Woodruff said that national and state experts have validated the efficacy and safety of the vaccines and that they should be available to the general public later in 2021. (National health experts have targeted late March and April for widespread distribution.) The vaccines will be administered at no charge.
The local priorities for vaccine will be just as they are nationally: Health care workers and skilled nursing residents and staff first. Woodruff said that this signifies the beginning of the end of the pandemic which is exciting and emotional.
Dr. Mark Satterfield, the county’s health officer, shared Woodruff’s enthusiasm for the vaccine and encouraged the public to receive it. “We want to develop herd immunity,” he said.
Each hospital is developing its own priority list and is preparing to administer the vaccine when it arrives. Vaccines will be voluntary.
In addition to the healthcare facilities, eventually local pharmacies such as RiteAid will be administering vaccines.
None too soon
The vaccine is arriving as the state and county see their cases spiral. Woodruff said California is surging ahead of the national averages when it comes to daily cases, with hospitalizations and deaths mounting. Locally, Plumas reported its single day high of 19 confirmed cases Dec. 11, and its first death over the weekend.
Through contact tracing, the majority of Plumas cases have been linked to gatherings of family and friends, and household contacts. However, 35 percent cannot be pinpointed, which Woodruff said indicates that there is community spread in the county. He warned that it’s essential to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
“Anyone you’re talking to may be infected,” Satterfield warned.
Satterfield added that hospitalizations are now occurring locally and health care workers have been infected (both Seneca and Plumas District announced numerous cases last week). “We’ve come close to running out of staff at two of our hospitals,” he said.
Woodruff said that he is in close contact with the hospitals. “There are mechanisms through Public Health to request additional resources,” he said.
Satterfield concluded his remarks by encouraging Plumas residents to celebrate differently this holiday. “This year, for one year, have a virtual Christmas with our families,” he said.