2020 | Coronavirus

County to administer more than 4,000 vaccine doses for first responders, medical providers

Clinics will distribute Moderna vaccine to qualified individuals in Phase 1A

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One hundred doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered to Montgomery County officials on Dec. 23.

Photo from Montgomery County

Montgomery County will administer more than 4,000 vaccine doses as early as Tuesday to first responders and employees of medical providers not covered by a hospital system.

The Moderna vaccine doses will be distributed through clinics that will accept qualified individuals who have registered for a vaccine through a management site called PrepMod.

The vaccine is currently only available in Phase 1A of a distribution plan, which covers hospital workers, medical providers, first responders, and nursing home residents and employees.

The six hospitals in the county have been receiving shipments of the Pfizer vaccine from the state and have already started vaccinations.

On Dec. 23, the county government received 100 vaccine doses from the state to vaccinate health department staff members and volunteers who will administer the vaccines to people through the county clinics. More than 40 employees and volunteers had been vaccinated as of Tuesday, including Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s health officer.

During a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Gayles said he felt fine after receiving his first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday and has not experienced any side effects.

“I didn’t grow six inches. My body didn’t change. I wish I could have lost a few pounds as a result, but I didn’t have any side effects that were reported and I am looking forward to receiving the second dose of the vaccine in weeks to come,” he said.

Gayles said the county is closely following case rates and other metrics to determine if there will be any potential case surges as a result of possible gatherings and travel during Christmas.

As of Monday, two of the six hospitals in the county had no intensive care unit vacancies, which includes any available beds that are not staffed because no one is available. One hospital had no vacancies for acute care because of a lack of staffing.

There were 15 available staffed beds available in the ICU units and 149 available staffed beds, according to Gayles.

The county health department sent a vaccine survey out to more than 700 medical providers and offices across the county, trying to reach more than 15,000 employees.

“Our team has already provided outreach to those groups and we do have multiple clinics scheduled this week using the allotment that we received yesterday,” Gayles said Tuesday.

About 1,000 doses are expected to be administered on Wednesday and 1,500 doses more on Thursday.

“We do recognize that not everyone is going to get vaccinated overnight. This will be an ongoing process,” Gayles said, adding that more clinics would open as the county receives more doses.

If there is a decrease in the number of people in Phase 1A requesting appointments, the county will advance to the Phase 1B.

Phase 1B includes residents with underlying health conditions who are more at significant risk of severe COVID-19 illness, frontline essential employees, and residents 75 years old and older.

The other vaccine phases are:
● Phase 1C: essential workers, residents ages 65 to 74, residents ages 16 to 64 with high-risk conditions
● Phase 2: residents with moderate risk of COVID-19 illness, residents ages 16 and older not in Phase 1
● Phase 3: general population

More information about the vaccine can be found at the county website.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.