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OC Healthcare Workers Receive COVID Vaccine

By OC Business Journal

December 21, 2020

Healthcare workers at Providence’s St. Joseph Hospital in Orange were the first in the county to receive Pfizer’s vaccine last Wednesday.

Nurses and physicians rolled up their sleeves and held out their arms to receive their first injection. In 21 days, they will receive a second injection, which will boost the effectiveness of the vaccine from 87% to 95%.

“Today is the beginning,” Jeremy Zoch, chief executive of St. Joseph Hospital, said at the conference.

“And frankly, we love the demand. We love that our caregivers, who know the science behind it, are saying, ‘We want the vaccine. Can we all go today?’”

A similar celebration took place at UCI Medical Center early Wednesday morning, where several hundred workers received the vaccine.

The vaccine “puts the wind in our sails,” as the new surge continues to hit home, said Chad Lefteris, chief executive of UCI Health.

UCI Health said it will play a major role in vaccine rollout; it has a number of qualified health centers and drive-thru locations, which are all being considered for wide-scale vaccine distribution in mid-2021.

Distribution Channels, Next Steps

A total of 10 hospitals in OC were approved to handle the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine as of last Tuesday; Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Kaiser Permanente Orange County, MemorialCare Health System and Providence’s St. Jude Medical Center were among them.

The OC Health Care Agency (OCHCA) said until hospitals have their vaccine plans approved through the state and county, the county will be in charge of delivering vaccines to those hospitals.

Meanwhile, residents and workers of long-term care facilities will receive vaccines through pharmacies.

OCHCA expects next week to receive a second batch of Pfizer vaccines, about 17,000, and about 32,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

This means OC will receive at least 74,000 first-doses (both vaccines require two shots) and the county will be able to vaccinate all of its frontline healthcare workers and at least 36% of total OC healthcare workers before the end of the year.

OC’s largest hospitals also confirmed they have started preparing for more widespread distribution of the vaccine in the spring or early summer.

Chief Executive Barry Arbuckle said MemorialCare has “the advantage of offering the region’s largest network of outpatient care locations—more than 200 facilities—close to where people live and work, thus providing convenient locations to access the vaccines when it becomes available to our patients and the general public.”

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