RIDGECREST REGIONAL HOSPITAL COVID-19 ADVISORY AND RESPONSE (11.25.20): COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

Wednesday, November 25, 2020, RIDGECREST, Calif. – Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) provides an update on its plans for COVID-19 vaccinations, prioritization and distribution in the Indian Wells Valley.

“We are approaching the New Year with the long-awaited hope and optimism that comes with the soon arrival of a safe and effective vaccine that is widely available to curb the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jim Suver, President/CEO. “As the 2 strongest vaccine contenders are finishing the process for emergency use authorization through the FDA, RRH is putting plans in place to acquire, store and distribute the vaccine locally.”

“Currently we are working on a framework assuming a very limited quantity of vaccines will be available initially,” said Brenda Diel, MS, RN, RRH Administrator of Quality, Regulatory, Infection Prevention and Safety. “The first available COVID-19 vaccine will be Pfizer’s and then Moderna’s will follow shortly after. The Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses, 21 days apart and temperature storage of -80 degrees C. The challenges with this vaccine is the need for ultra-low temperatures and the use of dry ice. RRH ordered an ultra-low temperature storage unit back in September, with estimated delivery in April 2021 and we continue to work on potential alternatives. The Moderna vaccine on the other hand, requires 2 doses, 28 days apart and has normal freezer storage requirements at -20 degrees C. While the vaccine efficacy is proving extremely promising for both, the Moderna vaccine is looking to be the likely option for RRH as a critical access hospital, based on size and storage limitations.”

Due to the initial limited availability of the vaccines, a phased approach to distribution is being adopted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Distribution will be broken out into phases, with the first phase being limited to high-risk healthcare workers and first responders. Prioritization for vaccine access in each population group will also be based on geographic areas identified through CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index.

“As with other vaccines, a registration process is in place for the State to receive allocation from the Federal Government to begin distribution,” said Suver. “We are anxious to receive our allocation as soon as possible so that we can start by ensuring our essential healthcare workers and first responders get the protection they deserve. As soon as our frontline workers are provided with the defense they need, we will get to work ensuring our community has the protection it needs as a whole to combat this deadly virus and allow us all to get back to living our lives and experiencing the normality once more that we are all currently craving. In the meantime, we thank our community for continuing to protect themselves and each other by taking all necessary precautions and following guidelines set forth by the state and public health departments.”

Symptoms of Covid-19 can include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please call RRH Urgent Care on 760-499-3800 or contact your primary care provider to see if you meet the criteria for testing.

If your symptoms worsen including the emergency warning signs, such as: persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face or trouble breathing, seek emergency (9-1-1) medical help immediately.

For answers to some frequently asked questions concerning COVID-19 vaccine planning, visit the California Deparmtent of Public Health FAQ section here: https://bit.ly/2KH5tgp


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