County prepares for Covid vaccine

HUDSON—Jack Mabb, director of the Columbia County Department of Health said Tuesday that the county has been told to begin preparations for administering a Covid-19 vaccine under Tier 1 of the planned roll-out of the vaccine.

Tier 1 is intended to immunize healthcare workers and other essential personnel, among others. Senior citizens in nursing homes, who are also at high risk of contracting the illness, are supposed to receive their Tier 1 vaccine doses from CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, he said.

Mr. Mabb said the county has recruited nursing students from Columbia-Greene Community College in the effort.

Many companies and organizations are developing Covid-19 vaccines. But among the ones likely to be distributed first in the U.S. are one made by Pfizer and BioNTech and a different vaccine by Moderna, Both need to be shipped and stored at extremely low temperatures; they lose their effectiveness after three days in conventional refrigeration.

With that in mind, the county has contacted local suppliers of dry ice to keep the vaccines properly cooled.

Both vaccines require two injections with two weeks in between in order to provide immunity.

The federal government will determine later this month whether drug testing data show the vaccines are safe and effective.

Mr. Mabb expects that the total number of cases of Covid-19 in the county since the beginning of the pandemic will rise above 1,000 cases. He said there has been a “consistent spike” in new cases, which he and other public health officials believe is an indicator of a surge in the illness from travel and lack of precautions during last week’s Thanksgiving holiday. And as winter weather has begun to arrive, he said, “people are getting sicker.”

CBS news reported Tuesday that Pfizer announced the federal government would deliver supplies of the Pfizer vaccine by December 15.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday, November 30, that it had scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on December 17 “to discuss the request for emergency use authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc.”

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