The Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech has arrived in California, which will get 327,000 doses that will be available in hospitals by Tuesday, December 15.
According to kron4.com, the first vaccine in California was given to an ICU nurse in Los Angeles.
Pfizer is expected to deliver an estimated 2.9 million vaccines to the United States, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under emergency use authorization (EUA).
Hospitals are preparing and training healthcare workers on how to dilute the vaccine in the correct ratio before the shots are given to frontline workers.
“The biggest thing with the Pfizer vaccine is that it has to be stored at a certain temperature and it has to be mixed properly, the ratio has to be accurate; you cannot mess it up, otherwise it will lose its efficacy,” Dr Jasbir S Kang, medical director, Yuba Sutter Hospitalist Group, California, told indica News.
“So, giving the Pfizer vaccine would be a little tricky and it cannot be given by anybody,” he said.
He said that healthcare workers have to be properly trained.
“There is a challenge, and right now we do not know about Moderna [which has also applied for emergency use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine] and its mixing procedure and ratio yet,” he said.
“As a doctor, it is encouraging and our scientists are capable of solving the pandemic problem,” he added.
Dr Kang’s hospital at present has 200 emergency beds, around one-third of which are occupied by Covid-19 patients.
When asked about possible side effects of the vaccines, he said both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can cause side effects, including pain at the injection site, fatigue,fever, headache, nausea and sore muscles.
“These side effects are typically minor and can be improved by taking acetaminophen [Tylenol] prior to the vaccine. Symptoms are often worse after the second shot and side effects are a sign that the immune system is working,” Dr Kang said.
Asked if the Pfizer vaccine can be given to anyone, he said the trials have not been done on pregnant women and those undergoing procedures such as chemotherapy.
“It is unclear what the impact will be,” for mothers to be, he said. “It would be reasonable to wait until after you have delivered or stop nursing your baby.”
“Those who are diabetic can take it, but if someone has had any reaction to a vaccine before we won’t recommend it to them at present.”
He said the healthcare workers would be asked to take the vaccine at the end of their workday, so that they can rest after taking it.
Fresno County in California has 58,000 medical workers and will get 7,800 vaccines.
Sim Dhillon, Health Education Specialist, spokesperson at the Fresno County Department of Public Health told indica News that 7800 the distribution will take a couple of days. At present, there are a total of 253 licensed ICU beds in Fresno County. And out of those 167 are allocated for adults, the remaining are for neonatal units.
Asked about media reports that there are not enough machines to keep vaccines that have to be stored at temperatures as low as -82°F, Dhillon said: “We are waiting and prepared; we can store 100,000 vaccines at a required temperature.”
He said the vaccine is coming for state allocation and given to counties and counties are distributing to hospitals.
“There is definitely positivity that now vaccine is available and a month back it was just face covering and distancing you could do. At the same time, we have now vaccines available and this is exciting news,” said Dhillon.
Dr Jacop Eapan, medical director at the Alameda Health System(AHS) and a member of the board of directors at the Washington Hospital in Fremont, California, said the hospital “will get about 900 doses in the first shipment and the total staff are 2,500.”
The death toll from Covid-19 has crossed 300,000 in the United States, the most in any country in the world.
[Video courtesy: Fresno County Department of Public Health]