Frontline healthcare workers at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, Dec. 16, became the first people in the Inland Empire to be administered the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech. Earlier that morning, San Bernardino County received its first shipment of the vaccines, which are anticipated to be disbursed to 19 hospitals within the county by the end of the day.
Pfizer is shipping three million doses in this first wave, of which California is initially receiving 327,000 doses; 15,600 have arrived in San Bernardino County. Subsequent shipments of the vaccine are expected to continue arriving on a weekly basis, and a second vaccine from Moderna is only days away from FDA approval.
The County has established the SB County Vaccination Task Force and produced a COVID-19 Standard Operating Guide to ensure our ability to distribute the vaccine as efficiently and effectively as possible. The guide largely follows guidelines established by the CDC, the California Department of Public Health and the County Department of Public Health.
San Bernardino County has launched a vaccine-specific information webpage that shares up-to-date information where we are in the different phases of the vaccine distribution, as well as critical FAQs and other resource links.
Because the initial batches of doses are being rationed, the vaccine is being initially administered to front-line healthcare personnel, followed by residents and staff of long-term care and skilled nursing facilities. First responders will also be among the first people in the county to receive the vaccine.
In Phase 2, distribution of the vaccine will be expanded to include K-12 teachers and staff, childcare workers, critical workers in essential and high-risk industries, residents with comorbidity/underlying conditions, staff and residents of group facilities, and older adults not included in Phase 1. Phase 3 adds young adults, children and workers in industries and occupations not already included, and Phase 4 includes everyone not already inoculated.
“We have a plan in place, and we will move quickly to protect our most at-risk and vulnerable residents,” said Board of Supervisor Chairman Curt Hagman. “That includes making sure we handle and store the vaccine properly,” he added, noting that the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -80 degree Celsius (-120 Fahrenheit), requiring special facilities and materials like dry ice (frozen CO2).
“We still face challenges from this virus, and will continue dealing with infections and illness for several weeks and even months. However, this is a crucial development that gives us hope for the future, and we will work tirelessly to ensure every county resident has a chance to get vaccinated at the earliest possible date,” Hagman said.