On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The EUA allows the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. and administered to individuals 16 years of age and older.
The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup representing scientists from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington reviewed the vaccine data and approved its use in California on December 13, and the first shipment of 83,000 vaccine doses arrived in California Monday, December 14, 2020.
California’s initial vaccine allocation is approximately 327,000 doses. Inyo and Mono Counties have successfully submitted a request and been jointly approved for 975 doses in the first round of vaccine allocation. The two counties are dividing the first round of allocation proportionally to the number of Phase 1a priority populations in each county. 360 doses will go to Mono County, 615 will go to Inyo County.
Who Gets Vaccinated with the First Round of Vaccine?
At first, because vaccine supplies will be very limited, the vaccine will not be available to everyone. In California, two groups are working to ensure the vaccines are distributed and administered equitably: a Drafting Guidelines Workgroup is developing California-specific guidance for the prioritization and allocation of vaccine when supplies are limited, and the Community Advisory Vaccine Committee is providing input and feedback to the planning efforts and resolving barriers to equitable vaccine implementation and decision-making.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has created a Phased Vaccination schedule that prioritizes those who are at most risk of getting COVID-19. Inyo County will be using the CDPH guidelines to distribute vaccinations.
The first round of vaccination, which is expected to begin in Inyo as soon as the end of this week, will go to Phase 1a populations, including:
- People exposed to COVID-19 through their work in health care or long term care settings. This includes clinicians like doctors and nurses, but also non-clinical roles such as environmental services, patient transportation, or interpretation. Phase 1a staff at Northern Inyo Healthcare District and Southern Inyo Healthcare District will be offered vaccine.
- Residents of skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, or other long-term care facilities for elderly or medically vulnerable individuals. The vaccine for these facilities, including Bishop Care Center, Southern Inyo Healthcare District’s skilled nursing facility, and Sterling Heights, will likely not come out of Inyo County’s first round allocation of 615 doses. Instead, these residential care facilities should be receiving vaccine through a state contract with CVS Pharmacy around the same time as NIHD and SIHD hospitals are vaccinating their Phase 1a staff.
After the hospitals receive their doses and vaccinate all of their staff eligible under Phase 1a, Inyo County will prioritize the following populations:
- Paramedics, EMTs, and others providing emergency medical services in Inyo County.
- Workers who provide home health care and in-home supportive services, including field staff for Pioneer Home Health and the Inyo County IHSS program.
- Public health field staff, including those providing vaccine and other clinical services .
- Primary care providers, including NIHD RHC and SIHD RHC, and jail health. Toiyabe Indian Health Project will also be prioritized and will receive vaccine through Indian Health Service channels.
- Other health care workers, including specialty clinics, laboratory workers, dental and other oral health clinics, and Pharmacy staff.
- Other essential workers, outside of health care. CDPH has not yet issued guidance on prioritizing these workers, but we do expect to receive this guidance in the near future.
When Will I be Eligible for Vaccination?
The vaccine isn’t expected to be available to everyone who wants it until at least the spring. Inyo County will be working with partners to distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible to everyone who wants it. The public will be notified once Inyo County has received additional vaccine.