By Dr. Jenny Johnston
Several patients have reached out to me requesting the COVID-19 vaccine. I am beyond excited for the day I can offer our patients the COVID-19 vaccine. I know that so many fears, anxieties can be quieted by the vaccine and I wish I could alleviate these sooner. I also know that many are waiting to see their loved ones and for many joys in their lives to return once we have achieved herd immunity through vaccination. I can’t wait either!
Each state has been charged with designing their own vaccine distribution, “roll-out”, plan. I believe it is important to discuss the vaccine roll-out plan as directed by Governor Little for the State of Idaho. As of now, healthcare workers and residents/staff at long term care facilities (like nursing homes) have started to receive the vaccine. This is the “first wave” of vaccinations. This also includes dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, home care aids and EMS workers.
Governor Little stated in his Office of the Governor Update from December 30 “I have full confidence in the safety of our vaccine and intend to receive mine when eligible”. So, when will the Governor receive his vaccine? A quick google search tells me that Governor Little is 66 years of age. He is also an essential worker. Governor Little will likely receive his vaccination with the “second wave”. Anticipated to begin by February 2021. At this time, the Governor’s plans state the second wave will include essential workers defined as teachers, day care workers, correctional staff, grocery and food service workers, the national guard. The second wave also includes adults 75 years and older. February 2021 is only 3 weeks away, hope for immunity is so close for so many!
The “third wave” is anticipated in April 2021 and will include adults 65 years and older. It will also include people aged 16 to 64 years old with at risk medical conditions.
The last wave is anticipated in May 2021 and will include the general public.
I am hopeful the vaccine will be available sooner to most people. At this time, the vaccines are being ordered and only ½ of the shipment is distributed. The other ½ is kept in storage as a second vaccine available to those who will need the booster in 3 weeks. The incoming President Biden has announced that he may advise to release all of the vaccine doses rather than withholding half of them. This is with hopes that the manufacturers (Pfizer and Moderna) can replenish the supply needed for the second vaccines. On January 9, during a radio interview with NPR, Dr. Anthony Fauci gave a statement regarding this “They’re not talking about withholding and not giving the second dose. They are completely dedicated to giving the second dose and on time but feel that the importance of getting as many people as possible is worth the risk.” It may be helpful to know, 2 weeks after receiving 1 dose of the vaccine, a person is believed to be 50% immune to COVID-19. 2 weeks after receiving the second dose, 95% immunity is achieved. The more immunity in our community, the less people suffer and die. Strategically, a move to give all available vaccine doses now, may be worth the gamble. 4,000 Americans died on January 8, 2021 from COVID-19 – The highest daily death toll yet.
Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics remains a trusted community resource. Please come to us with your vaccine questions. We are safe and unbiased. Our only wish is the health and happiness of our community. We are open to hearing your fears and concerns regarding the vaccine and can help you decide what is best for you and your family. Please contact us for any comments, concerns or questions. I understand that the unknown brings fear. However, knowledge is your power, and everyone deserves safe and truthful information to make the best decisions for themselves.
On a personal note, I received my second COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. I received the Pfizer vaccine as it was the first available. However, the Moderna series are just as safe and effective. Completing my COVID-19 vaccines came at a difficult time for me emotionally. I had been the hospital physician, caring for very sick patients with COVID19. The suffering was unimaginable. I hope that by receiving the vaccine, it will honor those patients and their families.