Thousands of more vaccines are planned to be received through the beginning of 2021 but priority will be given to essential workers in the healthcare industry.
Up to 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be received and administration will begin by the end of the year, according to the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, it announced on Thursday, Dec. 10.
The press release notes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will complete the review of the Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 10 and anticipates it will start shipping on Monday, Dec. 14.
The City is also expecting an additional 11,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the coming weeks. “Critical populations,” such as hospital workers will have access to the vaccine initially, according to the press release.
Both vaccines will require two doses and will provide the same effectiveness, making the only difference between the two vaccines its storage requirements.
“COVID-19 remains the biggest threat to life in our city, but our vaccine plan is giving our community hope,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in the press release. “We are prepared and look forward to starting distribution in the next couple of weeks for key medical staff.”
The vaccine distribution process will be managed by the Health Department and will follow the guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the State.
The press release notes that the City of Long Beach has the infrastructure to receive, store, and distribute and pass out the vaccine.
“Vaccine distribution and dispensing is a normal function of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services,” the press release stated. The Public Health Emergency Management team and immunization coordinator have been preparing for mass vaccinations for a number of years and the Health Department practices for emergency vaccine distribution each year by overseeing mass vaccination events in the city during flu season.
“We are hopeful about the positive impact of vaccines but we are not out of the woods yet,” Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in the press release. “We are extremely concerned about the boom in positive cases and the demand on ICU staff in our community. We must stay the course and continue to take the necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
The press release goes on to say that the city residents shouldn’t expect to pay for the vaccine because it will “be paid for by the federal government or through one’s insurance company.”
The vaccination plan will take place in several phases which will be determined by the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The advisory committee gave guidance on prioritizing those who are at highest risk of infection such as hospital workers and frontline workers and then moving on to other essential workers, adults over 65 and people with underlying health conditions. This line of priority was established to benefit the community as a whole, the press release states and will be arranged in phases, sub-phases and tiers.
Phase 1a will be the initial group having access to the vaccine. Because the number of people that fall into this group is larger than the number of doses in the initial shipment, this phase will be divided into three tiers. The City projects those in phase 1a will be vaccinated within the first three months of 2021, the press release said.
• Tier 1 of Phase 1a includes acute care and skilled nursing facilities, paramedics and EMTs and dialysis centers.
• Tier 2 includes intermediate and home health care, community/public health field staff and primary care clinics.
Most other healthcare settings including laboratories, dentist offices and pharmacies will be in Tier 3.
In Phase 1b, vaccines will be offered to other essential workers, which may include grocery workers and anyone who has been working during the pandemic in an essential job function. The City projects Phase 1b to begin in March or April of next year.
Phase 1c will include adults over the age of 65 who are high-risk and adults with high-risk medical conditions.
Phase 2 is when the vaccine will be available to the general public and that is expected to happen in early summer 2021.
The Health Department will begin the distribution of vaccines to City partners over the next several months. The Health Department will run dispensing clinics or PODS (Point of Dispensing) for essential workers first and the general public later.
The City is urging its residents to follow these guidelines as cases continue to climb:
• Stay at home as much as possible – leave your home only as necessary to access and provide essential services.
• Wear a face-covering whenever you leave your home.
• Avoid close contact with anyone outside your household.
• Wash your hands and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
As of Thursday, Dec. 10, 20,088 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the City of Long Beach with 16,213 recovering and 290 deaths.
For the latest information on COVID-19, with details on all that the City of Long Beach is doing to keep residents safe, visit longbeach.gov/COVID19 and follow @LongBeachCity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.