Coronavirus vaccine arriving this week in Tahoe communities

Coronavirus vaccine is arriving this week in Lake Tahoe communities.

Pfizer produced a vaccine that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11 for emergency use in the United States.


California received 331,500 doses of the vaccine Monday, Dec. 14, in the first shipment.

Local hospitals are expecting to have the first doses this week.

Dr. Clint Purvance said Tuesday during the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting that Barton Health expects to have their allocation of 500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, even as soon as Wednesday.

By Friday, they plan to start immunizing top tier individuals as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California Department of Public Health vaccine plan which include frontline workers and skilled nursing residents. He says that the city and county will be working to administer the vaccine to other frontline workers including EMS and fire.

Purvance said they are expected to have 500 doses of Moderna as early as next week, once it receives FDA approval.

The rest of the 327,000 doses will be arriving and distributed throughout California in the next couple days.

These initial doses will be provided in accordance with the Allocation Framework for Phase IA to essential frontline healthcare workers and to people living in long-term care facilities.

The regional distribution of the 327,000 is allocated by the following regions and is being distributed throughout the week:

Region 1 (126,750 vaccines): Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura

Region 2 (80,497 vaccines): Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma

Region 3 (8,592 vaccines): Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yuba

Region 4 (35,145 vaccines): Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo

Region 5 (16,706 vaccines): Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced

Region 6 (59,910 vaccines): Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside, San Bernardino

“The vaccine being received this week will arrive by ground delivery through the ultra-cold Pfizer thermal shipper system,” said Dr. Kandra Yee, chief of staff and medical director of the emergency department and emergency operations at Barton Health, in an email.

For community vaccinations, no dates or timelines have been determined, but Purvance reminded the community that Barton, the county and city are all partnering to watch it closely.

“Barton is certainly going to be a partner and lead in making sure that we can immunize our community and do that in an effective manner following CDC guidelines,” he said. “Right now, the biggest focus is getting the top tier individuals vaccinated with the amount that is due to arrive in the month of December.”

“Things look bright from my perspective,” Purvance added. “I believe we are going to have a challenging season with COVID-19 these next few months.”

Purvance says that he will absolutely take the vaccine that he says is a “big hope on the horizon.” He says that as he moves into the tier to receive the vaccine, he will receive it.

“The risk of it is lower than the ultimate reward to individuals and greater society,” he said.

The next dose of the vaccine is expected to be available for essential workers and others at highest risk of becoming infected or severely ill with COVID-19.

Purvance says that while there is more data to come out, the use of the vaccine is for those who are asymptomatic and have not had illness in 90 days. The vaccine is meant to essentially build immunity against COVID-19 and is not intended as a treatment for those who have it or have had it recently.

While Barton has been treating COVID-19 patients with the steroid dexamethasone which Purvance says has shown to improve care, the antiviral Remdesivir along with antibody treatments for certain patients.

El Dorado County Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams said on Tuesday that Pfizer will get to El Dorado County sometime this week and Moderna is supposed might arrive sometime next week.

“The vaccine is the way out of the pandemic,” she said, adding that it is 95% effective.

The vaccine, to be fully effective, needs two injections.

“Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations require two doses to maximize effectiveness,” said Yee. “If you receive the Pfizer vaccine, the second dose is recommended 21 days after the initial dose. For the Moderna vaccine, the second dose is recommended 28 days after the initial vaccine.”

With roughly two million healthcare workers, Williams says that vaccine use for the general public might not be available for quite some time and “millions of more doses” are needed in the top tiers.

The CDPH vaccine plan for Phase 1A has three tiers.

Tier 1 includes health care workers with direct exposure to patients, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals, workers at skilled nursing facilities, paramedics and EMT’s, and workers at dialysis centers

Tier 2 includes those individuals who work at intermediate health care facilities, in-home health workers, community health workers, public health field staff and workers at primary care clinics

Tier 3 includes workers at specialty clinics, lab workers, dental offices, and pharmacy staff not included in other tiers.

Yee said one of the challenges with the vaccines is maintaining it at such a low temperature. The vaccine has to be used within five days of opening. Barton is storing all of El Dorado County’s vaccines in a freezer and officials will decide how to distribute without wasting any.

“Although the vaccination should help reduce the severity of the symptoms from COVID-19, it is still too early to know if it will reduce transmission; therefore, masking and mitigation strategies will still be necessary until more data is available,” she said.

On Monday afternoon, Newsom said on Twitter that California will be receiving an additional 393,900 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer early next week and by the end of December, California is expecting 672,000 Moderna vaccines once it receives official approval.

“Vaccinate All 58” campaign was launched Monday to promote a safe, fair and equitable vaccine for all 58 counties in California.


On the other side of Lake Tahoe, the Washoe County Health District building received 3,655 of the first distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning.

The vaccine will be distributed to all four regional hospitals in Washoe County. Incline Village Community hospitals will receive about 40 doses.

Washoe County recieved Pfizer vaccine Tuesday.
Provided / Washoe County

“It’s a huge step in the right direction to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as it has been deemed safe and effective by the FDA,” said Washoe County Health Distirct’s Communications Manager Scott Oxarart in an email. “We still don’t know when the general public will be able to receive the vaccine but hope for this spring.”

Washoe County is expecting another shipment of vaccine early next week, but don’t know how many doses that will include.

Carson Tahoe Health received the first allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning. CTH will administer the vaccine to its staff starting Wednesday morning, when the second half is expected to be delivered, for a total of 400 vaccines. The hospital anticipates vaccinating all personnel who want it over the next eight weeks, starting with those who work directly with COVID patients, said Diane Rush, CTH public information officer. Rush said the hospital will receive more of the vaccine later as it becomes available from the state.

Carson City Health and Human Services is awaiting the next shipment of the vaccine, when the department will start to vaccinate other tier 1 individuals: emergency medical services personnel, frontline public health workforce and volunteers, law enforcement and public safety, and local emergency operations managers/staff.

“Hospital staff and long-term care facility residents and staff need to be vaccinated before we receive the vaccine and are able to vaccinate the remainder of the tier,” said Jessica Rapp, public information officer, CCHSS.

CVS and Walgreens will be vaccinating residents and staff at long-term care facilities per an agreement with the CDC. Nearly every facility in the state has been matched up with a pharmacy, according to the Nevada playbook for the COVID-19 vaccination program.

There are a total of four tiers of individuals, ending with healthy adults, who will receive the vaccine as it is rolled out.

On Monday, Helen Cordova, an ICU nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, was the first person to get the COVID-19 vaccine in California.

“This is a tremendous scientific achievement and a moment of hope for all Californians,” said Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency Dr. Mark Ghaly in a press release. “But it is not a moment to let down our guard. COVID-19 is spreading like a wildfire throughout our state and we need to stay home and wear a mask to preserve our health care delivery system until the vaccine is widely available and adopted in our state.”

The vaccine was tested for safety by Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, a panel made up of nationally acclaimed immunization and public health experts. Western states including Washington, Oregon and Nevada joined the workgroup with California.

The Workgroup confirmed the Pfizer vaccine is safe for public use this past weekend and continues to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines following federal review processes.