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Health department readies for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Nueces County Health District staff is ready to begin distributing the coronavirus vaccine when it makes its way to the Coastal Bend.

Health experts anticipate that when the first wave of the vaccine arrives, a limited supply will be in place .

Plans are being developed to get the local population vaccinated. Already, anticipation is heavy for many residents as they continue to wait for the vaccine.

But before the vaccine arrives, Corpus Christi Public Health Director Annette Rodriguez has a reasoned plan ready to go. She says the plan was developed in 2009 when the swine flu hit the area. But with the coronavirus, the health department plan had to be adjusted because COVID-19 and H1N1 have differences.

“The first group that always get vaccinated and I don’t think there’s going to be any change to this because it wouldn’t make any sense to make the change is going to be the hospital frontline healthcare workers,” Rodriguez said.

The first vaccine that will arrive locally will be the Pfizer vaccine, then the following suit could possibly be Moderna, Rodriguez said. And with an anticipated supply of the vaccine, health care professionals are slated to receive the vaccine first.

The biggest challenge is following through with the logistics for the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored in an ultra-cool setting and dry ice must be changed five times a day.

“And we all know there’s a national shortage of dry ice, so one of our questions has been, how do we get more dry ice if that’s what we’re doing,” Rodriguez said. “So part of what we’re re-thinking is are we going to do a drive-through or are we going to do a walk-through?”

Part of the plan will be to target populations most vulnerable to the virus which include individuals 65 years old or older, asthma patients, heart disease patients and many more. The health department says it will be utilizing the herd immunity approach.

“So by them getting vaccinated that’s the herd, to protect one infant and that’s what we’re all going to do because there are no children getting vaccinated,” Rodriguez said. “Pfizer is only 16 and up so what about all the little ones? All of us getting vaccinated, we’re the herd and we protect all the children.”

Rodriguez says the health district has completed many exercises with the state so when the vaccine arrives in Corpus Christi, her group will be prepared.

“And that’s our goal, is to make sure that the vaccine has not been compromised by us and we give it to you safely and we get some immunity in the community,” said Rodriguez.

The health department anticipates the vaccine to arrive before Christmas.

The health department is asking that all providers register and report how much of the vaccine they need ordering from the state.

Providers such as physicians or doctors who are licensed to distribute can begin the registration process by clicking here.

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