Vaccine delivery less than expected from feds to state
128,000 Moderna doses anticipated next week
Last updated 12/24/2020 at 8:40am
Full delivery of the 74,100 doses of a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine promised by federal officials fell short, and a second vaccine by Modern was approved the evening of Dec. 18 with 128,000 doses anticipated in the state, early next week.
A preventative vaccine for COVID-19 cleared the FDA from Pfizer on Dec. 11. The emergency use shots have not yet been received by the Snohomish County Health district, said Heather Thomas, government affairs manager. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is an MRNA vaccine.
A second mRNA vaccine by Moderns is anticipated to be the second to gain emergency use permission from the FDA, sometime on Dec. 18.
DOH reported that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was delivered to the state as planned, but the amount received was 29,000 less than expected, per their communications with Operation Warp Speed. The state agency was not given a reason why the number was less than anticipated, a DOH news release states, but the remaining 62,400 of Pfizer-BioNTech doses are still scheduled for delivery.
The state responded with a commitment to move ahead, and gratitude for doses in-hand was stated.
"This reduction does not change our commitment to getting all allocated doses out to health care providers and people in Washington at risk of COVID-19," said Secretary of Health John Wiesman in a news release from the DOH. "Our focus is on the vaccines we are receiving and making sure health care providers and long-term care facilities are ready to give those vaccines. We are thankful we still have doses to allocate, and look forward to understanding our allocations beyond next week."
And as of Dec.16 at midnight, providers in Washington state reported giving 1,159 Pfizer-BioNTech doses to "Phase 1A" groups, the DOH news release states. Phase 1A is defined in a pre-planned vaccination process.
Data shows both vaccines help prevent COVID-19 infection. Pfizer reports phase three clinical trial endpoints show 94% efficacy and Moderna reports 95%.
Once high risk people receive two doses, vaccination will become available for more groups, phasing out with availability until the general public is able to access the treatment, sometime in mid or late 2021. DOH is preparing to launch http://www.covidvaccinewa.org for people to monitor what phase they are in, and see updates on distribution and prioritization guidelines for the next phases of the vaccine in the coming weeks, Thomas said.
Masks stay on, long road ahead
Health officials in Snohomish County reminded all on Dec. 15 that the vaccination effort is a lengthy process, and will not free the public from the hyper-vigilance of pandemic precautions, until data proves prevention has worked.
"We know that people have been looking forward to this day, knowing that effective vaccines are the best way to end the pandemic. It's just great news," said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers Tuesday in a Joint Information Commission briefing. "It will take well into next year before everybody that wants to can get their vaccine, and so we've got a ways to go yet, but we have reached this important milestone. "
Front-line health care workers, first responders and most vulnerable populations will be vaccinated first, "to give us some confidence that our hospitals and long-term care facilities will remain resilient and open and functioning well," Somers said.
Public health goals remain focused on prevention to conserve medical resources and protect those who are at risk for severe illness, until all can access the new medical innovations.
"We will have to continue to wear masks and maintain physical distancing protocols. While the vaccine does protect yourself to a great degree, it does not necessarily mean you can't transmit the virus to others. That's something that remains to be seen. But we will be wearing masks and distancing for the foreseeable future," Somers said.
Health officials say the review of data has been lengthy, and the rapid pace of emergency use approvals show the final stage, in a thorough process.
The path ahead may not seem so swift, as it is paced by availability and the duration needed to trigger the body's immunity. The two-shot treatment for the Pfizer vaccine is timed three weeks apart for each patient. The vaccine is intended to create immunity to COVID-19 pandemic by training the body's messenger RNA to craft a protein to fight the virus, if a person is exposed.
The mRNA science is new for human use, but well studied overall. It is unknown how long that immunity lasts, but more vaccines are in the pipeline for consideration. A vaccine tracker is available on the New York Times: https://nyti.ms/3mAAQ9s.
Thomas said the health district has not received any word of anyone being required to receive the vaccine – it is expected to be completely voluntary.
Safety data has been promising for Pfizer-BioNTech and side effects are described as standard for other vaccines.
Health officials will continue to collect data on safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, as doses are administered, said Dr. Chris Spitters in a weekly JIC meeting. Spitters is the health officer for the Snohomish County Health District.
Canada and the United Kingdom were first to use the Pfizer vaccine.
More information on mRNA vaccines is here:
For questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in Snohomish County, including local distribution and administration, email [email protected]