Dr. Packer COVID-19 vaccine letter to the community
In an email message to community members on Tuesday, December 8, Dr. Steven Packer, president/CEO of Montage Health, shared some information on how we are planning for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine.
After a challenging year, I’m certain you’re eager to learn more about progress toward the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, especially in our own community. It’s a complicated process, from final regulatory approvals to transport and storage intricacies to decisions about how the massive number of doses needed throughout the world will be allocated and when. Despite all that, it’s an exciting time, and a time of renewed hope.
At Montage Health, we have been planning and taking the necessary steps to ensure that our community receives the vaccine in as timely a manner as possible. We applied early with the state to be considered as a vaccine provider and have been approved. We secured special freezers to be able to store one of the vaccines that requires ultra-low temperatures. Next steps will become clearer when more is known about vaccine availability and timing, and there are a whole lot of dedicated and smart people working very hard on this massive undertaking in Sacramento and here in Monterey County.
It is expected that two of the vaccines will be given Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in the next few days (Pfizer) to two weeks (Moderna). The state is making decisions about vaccine distribution to counties, as well as to large university medical centers and healthcare systems where we expect the bulk of the early shipments to go. And both CDC and our state public health agency have provided direction that frontline healthcare workers and employees and residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities will be the first to receive the vaccine. Our anticipated small supply of vaccine from the early distribution will come from Monterey County’s allocation and will be provided to our staff in high-risk jobs so they can continue to care for our community. We expect to begin vaccinating our team members later this month.
It remains unclear exactly when and how the vaccine will be distributed to the general population. By most accounts, it is projected that vaccinations should become available to the general public in the spring and summer of 2021. In the interim, we will be diligently monitoring those developments and working closely with the state and Monterey County on local plans, and we will keep you informed.
On a personal note, I plan to get the vaccine once we have provided vaccines for our employees who are at highest risk. I want to do what I can to protect others and myself from COVID-19, and I hope you will do the same. I know some of you might be nervous about getting the vaccine, but please know, I wouldn’t make that recommendation if I didn’t believe it was safe to do so. I believe our Montage Health team and outside health experts have provided trustworthy guidance on the safety of these vaccines. And an effective vaccine will help keep you and our patients safe, and our staff safe and able to continue to provide our high-quality care.
While we wait for more vaccine developments, please get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already. It is especially important this year to protect your immune system. And please don’t delay any necessary medical care you might need, particularly if you are experiencing potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart attack or stroke. We have extensive COVID-19 protocols in place to keep you safe while accessing that care.
Finally, thank you for your ongoing support for our Montage Health staff during these unparalleled times.
Steven Packer, MD