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Central Coast health providers prepare for first vaccine doses to arrive

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CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION) California is expected to receive 327,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine this month, and several thousand doses will be distributed to counties on the Central Coast.

Santa Cruz County expects to receive close to 2,000 doses, Monterey County expects about 3,000 and San Benito 350 doses according to the local health departments. The state allocated doses to counties based on population.

The first doses from Pfizer will be distributed to frontline health care workers; including first responders and COVID unit hospital staff. Skilled nursing facility residents are also at the top of the list.

Pzizer says the first doses will arrive in containers that can last in dry ice for up to 5 days, and must be stored at -90 degree temperatures.  

The Santa Cruz Health Clinic, some hospitals and UC Santa Cruz have ultra-low freezers capable of storing the vaccine.

“Once it comes in then we can distribute it to the hospitals," Santa Cruz Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci said. "The hospitals are going to be the priority for the first distribution.”

The first batch will not be large enough to inoculate all area health care providers.

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital told KION how they’re prioritizing their employees:

“Naturally it's going to be your highest risk ones like the emergency department, the COVID inpatient units, the physicians of those units, nurses and all the ancillary staff,” SVMH COVID operational chief Carla Spencer said.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses given about a month apart.

The next vaccine expected to receive approval is Moderna, which has asked federal regulators for emergency approval, and does not have the same storing restrictions as Pfizer.

Doses of the vaccine will arrive in weekly shipments. Health officials expect the general population won't be immunized until late summer or early fall of 2021.

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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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