A vaccine is making its way to the Coastal Bend, but that doesn’t mean we have crossed the finish line. The fist doses are on the way and distribution is expected to begin within the month. Even though it isn’t an initial panacea for the virus, local public health officials around the region are working out the logistical nightmare of getting the medicine distributed to those who need it the worst.
On Friday state health officials said that long term care residents would be added to those who would receive the vaccine after healthcare workers. Information obtained by the Southside Light News shows that police, fire, and EMS workers are set to be priority status recipients for the vaccine, but just as with other major municipalities, emergency responders would likely have to wait a month or longer in the event that there are just not enough doses to go around.
A reasonable first round of vaccines for Corpus Christi and Nueces County should be between 4,000-8,000 doses. If that number actually arrives, that would be plenty of doses to at least get a good start on the vaccine process for healthcare workers and some first responders.
While there could be ample diesel to go around during the first round for healthcare workers and first responders, there is the looming question around who gets priority beyond that? Will there be a priority system set in place for the elderly and immunocompromised, and caregivers for the elderly? What about folks who work in medical clinics and doctors offices? Elderly who aren’t living in long-term care facilities? What about teachers, those who grow and process food, or other essential workers? Prioritization will be an endless task and many in the community are questioning the ability of local crisis managers to meet the task.
Those giving out the vaccine will have to follow federal regulations set out by the CDC, and maintain the cold storage chain of custody. Within 24 hours of giving the vaccine, providers must create a report to send to the state immunization registry. From there, the cold storage may be an issue for smaller communities like Freer, Hebronville and San Diego, who may not have the equipment to store this early version of the vaccine. While there might be the possibility of getting the vaccine transported easily to rural areas, the real issue becomes storage once it gets there. Doses of the vaccine would have to be administered almost immediately.
As far as paying for the vaccine, health officials tell us that cost should not be a concern. The federal government will cover the uninsured population, while insurance should cover the vaccine’s cost for those with private insurance. Medicare and Medicaid will also cover those patients.
While there is hope insight, there are some major concerns and roadblocks in the way