December 17, 2020 – On Thursday morning Nevada County received the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine which included 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. These first doses are being distributed to our two hospitals, Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley and will be used to begin vaccinating our front-line health care workers. This first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine represents a significant milestone, and congratulations are warranted to the community, our healthcare providers and Public Health for getting us this far.
“Although our initial allocations will be small, we expect that soon we will begin to receive vaccine allocations each week,” said Nevada County Public Health Director Jill Blake. “This is very welcome news, as the arrival of the vaccine indicates the beginning of a pharmaceutical intervention that will eventually end this pandemic and allow us to return to normalcy.”
COVID Vaccines Arriving at Tahoe Forest Hospital & Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital
“This week is a huge, positive week for our region considering the past nine months in that this is the first step of Part B of our strategy which is to receive and begin administering vaccines following state and county guidelines. We’ve all waited impatiently for this week,” said Harry Weis, President and CEO of Tahoe Forest Health System. “It’s a small start so please stay tuned for advice as to when vaccines will be available for the general public”.
At Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) preparation included acquiring necessary equipment to store and administer the vaccine, the training of staff, and developing relevant processes and procedures.
“At Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, safety is our priority, and we only administer vaccines that are proven safe and effective. While there are always unknowns when a new vaccine is developed, data from the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials looks extremely promising, and the vaccines they are creating appear to be very effective,” said Dr. Brian Evans, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital President. “As we reach this historic moment in time, I do want to take pause to recognize our healthcare workers that have and will continue to do their part to keep our communities healthy and well – it is truly heroic work and we can’t thank you enough.”
As with all COVID-19 communications throughout this pandemic, Dr. Evans stressed, “Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital has been very transparent and attempts to always communicate vital information to community members in the timeliest manner.” He explained they will be taking this same approach with the vaccine distributions.
Nevada County is following the vaccine allocation guidelines developed by the California Department of Public Health. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has developed phases and tiers within those phases. CDPH continues to define/clarify who is included in which tiers. Nevada County’s first doses are going to front-line health care workers at our two hospitals. Congregate care settings such as Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities are also prioritized in Tier 1 of Phase 1A. As availability increases, vaccine will eventually be available via local health care providers and Nevada County Public Health.
While this is a tremendous milestone in the fight against this pandemic, it will be some time until the vaccine is widely available. Until our community is widely vaccinated, stay home as much as possible, wear a mask when out of the house, and maintain social distance from non-household members. If you are a healthcare worker with an active license and would like to volunteer as a disaster healthcare worker, you can sign up with California’s Disaster Healthcare Volunteer database. If you are a healthcare provider with a current practice, Nevada County Public Health is planning to hold meetings with providers to consult about the best way to ensure that everyone who qualifies for these initial doses has access to them.
If you have more questions about vaccine safety, efficacy, distribution, approval or other related questions, visit the State of California’s Vaccine page for up-to-date information. For more information on Coronavirus in Nevada County, visit www.mynevadacounty.com/coronavirus or speak with a local call center representative at 211 Connecting Point by calling 1-833-DIAL211.