Today, Lindsey Mendez, a nurse practitioner with the county’s public health division, took all sorts of questions from the media on the vaccine. Who’s getting it now? Who’s getting it next? What happens after you get it? How does it work?
Video above, rough transcript below.
Good afternoon, we’re here today with Lindsey Mendez, family nurse practitioner for Public Health. Would you like to start out by addressing the community?
Yes, we are very excited today at Public Health because yesterday we had our first shots go into arms at Mad River Hospital and then today our own immunization clinic here at Public Health will be administering vaccine to nurses at the hospital for Sempervirens so that they can in turn go and vaccinate their staff at that hospital.
This is a very exciting day.
The Lost Coast Outpost asks, “Since this vaccine requires two shots spaced a few weeks apart, will the 975 doses we received only cover 487 people? When do we get more?”
So the 975 doses that we were given are going to be covering 975 people because we are going to be ordering weekly allotments, so that this will be replenished when the next order goes through. And it is weekly, so that’s when we are getting more.
The Lost Coast Outpost asks, “In this first round, who exactly is being inoculated? Are any care home residents receiving the vaccine this week?”
So, in this first round we are trying very hard to saturate the hospitals because of the workers who are most at risk. Okay, so the ICUs, the ER nurses, EMS, the COVID floors, making sure that we have all of those covered, and also Sempervirens Hospital.
When it comes to the care homes, they are an extremely important population, so important in fact that the federal government has actually taken on a contract for these homes themselves. We are aware that they are contracting through CVS and Walgreens and that they will be getting their own allotment of doses that we actually don’t even control.
The Redheaded Blackbelt asks, “Are the vaccine doses for the second round of shots already allotted for and set aside or are those second doses still needing to be procured?” So the second round of shots as we previously answered will be allotted when we get the next order coming through.
So the 975 will cover 975 people and then we will have the ordering process where they will then replenish that supply to ensure that we get the second dose.
The Redheaded Blackbelt asks, “Once people get the vaccine, are they then required to self-isolate or can they resume normal duties, for example as a frontline healthcare worker?”
So once you get the vaccine we are asking that you remain socially distanced and that you continue to mask and you continue to do the washing of hands and all the protocols that we have asked in the past.
This is because the CDC thinks that after 28 days of the first vaccine you are immune, but we do not have enough information at this time and we are asking that we continue to mask and socially distance, even as a healthcare worker.
The Redwood News asks, “For those that may not understand, can you give your average person a better idea of how the vaccine generally works? What are some of the most common misconceptions about the vaccine so obviously there are common misconceptions about every vaccine?”
So obviously there are common misconceptions about every vaccine. We know that because this is a new kind of vaccine for most people, the MRNA vaccine, there’s a lot of concerns about side effects and what MRNA is if it’s injected and to give you a good overview of how this vaccine works, essentially think about it as a way for your body to recognize just a small part of the COVID virus and that’s all it’s doing.
We’re getting a little bit of information about the COVID virus itself called a spike protein and then when we give that to you, next time COVID comes to see if it can affect you, your body already knows that one spike protein and that’s all that it needs to know at that time. So that’s how that vaccine works.
The Redwood News asks, “Some people are skeptical about the vaccines. Some have concerns over the safety or the effectiveness of the vaccine. What would you say to them to maybe alleviate some of those fears or concerns?”
So the vaccine has gone through the process of an emergency release for safety concerns, right, so it has checked all the trial boxes and the FDA has told us that this is a safe vaccine for persons over the age of 16. So when we talk about effectiveness they are also telling us that the Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective, so that is a significant effectiveness.
The Redwood News asks, “Can you talk about what life is like for someone post-vaccination after getting both doses? How are they able to act around others while out and about? Risk of still transferring the virus to others, etc.?”
Again I would just urge everyone to continue to socially distance and to wear their masks as we are waiting for guidance from the CDC about how we are going to interact with each other as we move, especially through the tiers, because we have to remember that not everybody in our community is being vaccinated at the same time, we are going to be doing the highest level with people at the highest risk in hospitals and in long-term care facilities as the federal government is going to be doing, and then as we move forward in the future with the coming months, then the population as a whole will be getting vaccinations.
So continue to socially distance, continue to wear your masks until you are told otherwise by the CDC.
The North Coast Journal asks, “Can you please explain how immunity works with the two-dosed Pfizer vaccine and how the doses are spaced over time? For example, is someone considered partially immune after the first dose then fully immune after the second?”
They believe that you will be immune after the second dose and I will make that clear, it is supposed to be 95 percent effective, the Pfizer vaccine is broken into two parts and they are 21 days apart. So when we say that the vaccine is seen to be effective after 28 days, you actually need the second dose of the Pfizer after 21 days, but this is the preliminary information about when you are immune.
The North Coast Journal asks, “Can someone who has received both doses of the vaccine and is considered immune still act as a vector and transmit the virus?”
That’s a great question and we have had this as a question for the CDC and we are waiting on a response of an absolute response from the CDC and CDPH.
The North Coast Journal asks, “We understand Public Health recommendations are that people who receive the vaccine should still follow masking social distancing and other public health guidelines to slow transmission of COVID. Can you explain why?”
We should continue to socially distance because of the way that the tier system works, we should continue to mask because of the way that this tier system is working. Because we are not all getting vaccinated at the exact same time and we’re not all getting vaccinated even in the same months maybe, because we’re going to be allotting the vaccine to the highest level down to then the general population in risk, then we need to continue to do these things as to not have a sense of security that everybody here is immune.
The North Coast Journal asks, “Understanding the state has set a basic tiered criteria for vaccine distribution, how is the county determining the order of who gets vaccinated when within those tiers. For example the county reported receiving 975 doses earlier this week, enough to administer a first dose to less than 10 percent of our estimated health care workforce. What’s the criteria and who is determining it for deciding the order of who gets vaccinated when?”
That’s a very important question and one thing that the community should know is that there is actually an advisory board that has been created by the state of California around this exact question and this has been created by the California Health and Human Services along with CDPH and every week actually there is a call in which stakeholders and members of all of the vast California communities get into this call and they ask questions and they talk about why separate workforces and separate populations fit into the equity scheme, right, of distributing this vaccine appropriately, ranging from workers that are dealing with agriculture to the ACLU, are on this call.
And so we have worked very hard in California to establish a tier system so that we are literally getting the people who are in close contact with COVID first, then all the way down with equity into people who are still around COVID and doing essential jobs.
The North Coast Journal asks, “What oversight or transparency measures are in place to ensure this is an objective process based on need, risk and science?”
So the process that has gone into place in the state of California during this whole COVID-19 vaccination planning comes from an advisory committee that is run by the state of California and this advisory committee was created by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Health and Human Services. This advisory committee makes up many stakeholders who publicly come onto the calls and talk about the equity of how we are distributing this vaccine and the state of California feels very strongly about equity when it comes to workers who are in constant contact with COVID, workers who are essential, and as we move through the tiers, as we move more into the general population and the other essential workers, we are actively trying to find a way to be equitable for all of those populations.