Kings County Health Department expecting first shipment of recently approved COVID-19 vaccine

By The Leader Staff
Kings County Health Department expecting first shipment of recently approved COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is apparently on its way to Kings County. However, when and how it gets there remains a question mark. According to Adventist Health officials, who operate Kings County’s only hospital, as of Monday, expect it to arrive in Kings County soon.

Judging by other counties, the vaccine could arrive in Kings County today (Tuesday, Dec. 15).

According to an Adventist spokesperson, the Kings County Department of Public Health (KCDPH) is scheduled to receive doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week, which health officials say will initially go to high-risk patient care areas, including medical staff and other health care workers, including those in nursing homes, places where it is needed the most.

However, Tulare and Fresno counties were expecting vaccine shipments on Tuesday, so Kings County is likely to receive a shipment as well. The vaccine will certainly be a welcome sight as Kings, and Central Valley counties continue to deal with the virus and deal with full ICU facilities.

According to the KCDPH, there have been 7,225 total COVID-19 cases in Kings County since the beginning of the outbreak. There are currently 1,999 active cases, and since its beginning, the crisis has taken 86 Kings County lives.

However, Kings County’s two prisons (Avenal and Corcoran) have experienced COVID difficulties, reporting 6,266 total cases. There are currently 2,134 active cases and 14 total deaths. The prison numbers are separate from the Kings County figures.

According to news reports, as of Monday, Tulare County’s Health and Human Services Agency was expected to receive about 3,000 doses of the vaccine today (Tuesday). The vaccine will go to hospitals in Tulare County, and the remainder will go to many of the county’s skilled nursing facilities.

On Monday, Assemblyman Rudy Salazar announced that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine would be stored and distributed from Kern Medical Center to the larger Central Valley region, thanks to storage capabilities. The vaccine must be stored in an extreme cold freezer to remain effective.

Kern Medical is currently preparing to receive the vaccine and will distribute it to healthcare workers as a priority. They are also working with other health facilities to ensure a widespread vaccine distribution once available to the general public.

As part of California’s first round of 327,600 Pfizer vaccine doses, 1,005 will be stored at Kern Medical to be distributed to frontline health workers. The Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective, as prescribed, at preventing illness from COVID-19 and provides protection just seven days after immunization.

By itself, distributing the vaccine to health care professionals is a heavy task in California, which boasts a population of over 40 million. The state is also home to roughly 2.4 million health care workers, many of whom work in hospitals and about 145,000 that work in nursing homes.

The state’s Department of Public Health’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee approved a plan that prioritizes those who come into direct contact with patients positive for COVID-19 and those at the highest risk of exposure.

A plan developed by the advisory body places acute care, correctional and psychiatric hospitals, and nursing homes as priorities, along with paramedics and emergency responders.

The advisory committee recommends that health departments prioritize supplies to places that serve the “greatest proportion of vulnerable persons.”

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