Hunt Regional awaiting direction on public vaccination distribution
Guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine distribution have been developed by an expert panel and approved by Texas Commissioner of Health Dr. John Hellerstedt. Because protecting health care workers is essential to keeping the health care system intact to care for COVID-19 and other patients, the first phase of vaccine distribution will focus on making the vaccine available to health care workers.
Vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna will be the first approved for distribution in the United States. Pfizer has already received its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). During a public health emergency, the FDA can use its EUA authority to allow the use of unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases when certain criteria are met, including that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center, the Pfizer vaccine has demonstrated 95% effectiveness and shows no serious side effects, only low percentages of fatigue and headache. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is displaying an efficacy of over 94% in early clinical trials and also shows a lack of serious side effects. Neither vaccine contains live virus; rather, they use virus proteins which our bodies can recognize and form antibodies against.
Hunt Regional administration says the first round of vaccines target health care workers and first responders. Updates will be provided as more information is received on the timeline and guidelines for distribution of the vaccine to the public.
“We are hopeful for the effectiveness of the vaccine and look forward to increased production so the community can receive this world-changing advancement in protection from coronavirus,” said Richard Carter, Hunt Regional CEO.
While waiting on widespread distribution, healthcare experts encourage continued precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing, particularly during the upcoming holiday season.
“The strain on healthcare systems in Texas is extensive and affects more than just COVID patients. Following these simple steps benefits you, your neighbors, family, our patients, and our enduring healthcare workers by allowing us to remain healthy and fully staffed with the capacity to meet every patient’s needs,” said Carter.
Hunt Regional will initially receive 975 doses of the vaccine. The doses are scheduled to arrive as early as Dec. 14. The hospital has been designated as a qualified provider and has purchased specialized equipment in place to store the vaccine at the required -60 degrees.