The first COVID-19 vaccine to reach the 10-county Lake Cumberland district is expected to be available next week, reports Amy Tomlinson, health preparedness manager for the Lake Cumberland District Health Department.
The district is not part of the first shipment that was flown into Kentucky Sunday. That shipment, a vaccine from Pfizer, must ship at subzero temperatures.
“The next round of vaccine coming out, I think they have a hearing with the FDA (today), is made by Moderna,” Tomlinson said. “It is a much more stable vaccine as far as storage requirements. It can be frozen at regular temperatures and that’s something hospitals are doing on a regular basis. That’s the vaccine we’re expecting to see.
“It should be approved this week and we expect to receive a shipment next week. This vaccine is a better fit for our (medical) capabilities.”
Tomlinson said the Pfizer vaccine is being shipped in 1,000-dose packages. The Pfizer production may not be practical for small rural hospitals in the Lake Cumberland area, Tomlinson said. Small hospitals usually don’t have that storage capacity and can’t administer that many vaccinations before the vaccine would go bad.
“When we do get our shipments in, the first people to have access to the vaccine are healthcare workers, hospital staff, emergency medical personnel, long-term care staff and residents,” Tomlinson said. “We should see the first doses administered by the end of the next week…if all goes well.”
Tomlinson said each county in the Lake Cumberland District – Adair, Taylor, Russell, Green, Cumberland, McCreary, Pulaski, Wayne, Clinton and Casey – will have its own distribution site, more than likely at the hospital or local health department. Each vaccine shipment will be earmarked for that particular population.
“There will be a phased approach to the vaccinations,” Tomlinson said. “(After emergency personnel) the next ones would be essential workers, adults with high risk medical conditions, the elderly, and people over 65. Then it will go wide spread to the general public.”
If everything goes as planned, the general public should start getting the vaccine maybe in January or February, Tomlinson said. Each phase takes two or three weeks, and a lot depends on how much vaccine is in each shipment.
“Each person will take two shots, and there will be 28 days between each dose,” Tomlinson said. “You have to have both doses to get the full affect. After you take the vaccine you’re still going to be at risk of contracting the virus for a couple of weeks until your body has built up enough immune response.”
Tomlinson said there will probably be side effects, likely soreness at the injection site, body aches, all typical and expected because that’s the body’s response to trying to fight off the virus. Adverse reactions, she said, are rare but not impossible.
“The thing that worries me now is people won’t be understanding of the tiers and the phases of the vaccine,” Tomlinson said. “I hope they understand we’re trying to do the most high risk groups first. We hope people will be patient and wait their turn to get the vaccine.”
For more information, check out the Lake Cumberland District Health Department website at lcdhd.org.
By Scott Wilson