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Vaccine distribution in North Central Idaho in preparation stage

LEWISTON-Public Health -Idaho North Central District (PH-INCD) is preparing for the region's first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in the next few days.

The vaccine, created by Pfizer and BioNTech, was determined both safe and effective by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday, Dec. 11.

Tuesday, Idaho Health and Welfare announced they would begin shipping out vaccine doses to local health districts for distribution. Idaho's vaccine rollout plans instruct local health districts to prioritize vaccine for local hospital staff and outpatient clinic staff who are providing care for COVID-19 patients. After those facilities have been offered the vaccine, remaining doses will be offered to additional groups following Idaho's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee's (CVAC) recommendations. https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.

The first vaccine shipment sent to north central Idaho is expected to contain 975 doses and will arrive sometime this week. PH-INCD has been coordinating with local hospitals to schedule vaccine clinics for their staff. Hospital staff are essential for care of COVID-19 patients and maintaining hospital capacity.

"There is not enough vaccine in the initial shipment to vaccinate all of the necessary frontline healthcare workers, this ongoing effort will continue with additional shipments of vaccine over the coming weeks," said Carol Moehrle, PH-INCD Director. "We are thrilled to start the vaccination phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is important to remember that the number of people to be vaccinated is substantial. Even as the vaccination process begins, it will likely be spring before the COVID-19 vaccine is available to the public at large. We still continue to urge everyone to take all precautions to decrease the spread of COVID-19by avoiding large groups, social distancing, wearing face coverings when around others, and staying home when ill."

PH-INCD is also working directly with healthcare partners in the priority groups to prepare for vaccine distribution in future shipments. Those who fit within the priority group in phase 1 and would like to provide vaccine through their facility, please contact the Idaho Immunization Program for enrollment information.

Those who are a member of the general public seeking COVID-19 vaccination, PH-INCD will release regular updates informing residents when and where vaccines will be available.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (CVAC) meetings are open to the public to view online and the information from the meetings can be found on their webpage: https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/idaho-covid-19-vaccine-advisory-committee/ For more information about the novel coronavirus please visit https://idahopublichealth.com/district-2/novel-coronavirus or call the Public Health Hotline at 1-866-736-6632.

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