It’s here. After months of fear, worry and anticipation, the highly touted vaccine from Pfizer Inc. has arrived in the valley.
Both Valley View (VVH) and Aspen Valley (AVH) hospitals have reported receiving allocated shipments and have just started vaccinating frontline healthcare staff.
Garfield County Health Specialist Carrie Godes said that 2,400 doses of the BNT162b2, as the vaccine is specifically called, are on their way into the arms of employees and long-term care facility staff and residents, as part of the Phase 1A priority plans issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Godes also noted, “We trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
Pfizer and Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) jointly developed using the process the companies dubbed Project Lightspeed.
Pfizer Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccine Research and Development Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D., said recent studies help illustrate the multiple arms of the immune system that are activated to fight SARS-CoV-2.
She added, “We continue to add to the body of scientific evidence supporting BNT162b2 and are pleased to see the consistency in our findings across studies.”
And just recently, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved the second COVID-19 vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to battle the pandemic; the Moderna vaccine which was developed with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine deliveries will be managed by the federal government, using funding from Operation Warp Speed, the program initiated to quickly develop and disseminate COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. While the Pfizer vaccine requires storage at -70 degrees fahrenheit, Moderna’s product can be kept at more normal temperatures.
Moderna uses mRNA medicines, which the company explained on its site, are sets of instructions. And these instructions direct cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.
But before taking the injection, experts cautioned, people who have experienced severe allergic reactions to vaccinations, should first consult their physicians.
Garfield County Commissions recently called for removing restaurants and gyms from the recent red level zone as authorized by the state. Under the commissioners’ resolution, each business can decide whether or not to follow the red level restrictions which calls for Coloradans in high-risk populations to stay home.
Also, under the red classification, personal gatherings are not allowed, regardless of size and restaurants must close to indoor dining. Takeout, curbside and delivery services are still allowed.
Following the distribution of Phase 1A , Phase 1B will kick in to vaccinate moderate-risk health care workers and responders, workers in home health/hospice and dental settings. Emergency Medical Services staff, firefighters, police, correctional workers, dispatchers, funeral services, other first responders, and COVID-19 response personnel.
Phase 2, expected in the spring, include people age 65 or older and those of any age with major severe medical issues such as diabetes, cancer or are immunocompromised. Phase 3 in the summer includes general public ages 18-64 without high risk conditions.
In Eagle County, Director of Communications Kris Waldeck reported, “Our first shipment arrived on time on Tuesday, and we started vaccinating on Wednesday. Between Vail Health and Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation, somewhere between 200-300 vaccines were administered yesterday. “
And added as soon as possible “The vaccine will be delivered to our health care providers in the Roaring Fork Valley for their staff.”
Eagle County has just launched eaglecountycovid.org, a new comprehensive website to streamline information and resources related to the local effects of the pandemic. Posted in English and Spanish, the site also links to the Eagle County Community COVID-19 Monitoring dashboard site with regularly updated data.
Eagle County is presently designated as Level Orange which includes limiting gatherings to no more than 10 from no more than two households for levels blue, yellow and orange. Also in this level businesses must adhere to 25 percent of posted occupancy limits or 50 people, whichever is fewer.