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COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Pierce County

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 9, 2021

Submitted Photo Robin Garnas, a registered nurse at Heart of America Medical Center, receives the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, administered by Karen Drader, Employee Health.

Late in December, Heart of America Medical Center personnel received and administered the first of several doses of vaccine for COVID-19 that would later extend to care center and high-risk patients and the community.

“The first round was for healthcare workers and any employee at HAMC. That was on Dec. 23,” said Darcie Rose, marketing director at the facility Dec. 31.

Rose said the next round of vaccinations went to patients in the facility’s long-term care center and residents of assisted living center Haaland Estates.

“At this time, public health is making a waiting list for elderly and high-risk members of the public,” Rose added. “There is a possibility of vaccines being available by February through public health for members of the general public.”

Rose said HAMC received its shipment of the Moderna vaccine Dec. 22. “The Moderna vaccine has a delivery and storage process more conducive to rural facilities,” she added.

Lake Region District Health Unit Nurse Samantha Wentz said she has administered the vaccine to frontline healthcare workers.

“I’ve started giving it to phase 1A patients,” she said, adding she would continue administering the vaccine in early January to other phase 1A recipients. Wentz said the 1A group includes first responders such as emergency medical technicians, firefighters and police officers along with direct-contact workers such as as eye doctors, dentists and funeral home staff.

“The next phase is 1B,” Wentz said, adding, “That includes ages 75 and older.”

Wentz said other patients included in phase 1B are people under 65 with two or more underlying conditions.

Wentz said her office was waiting on a new shipment of vaccines to continue the program. She used all of the vaccine included in the first shipment from Moderna.

“We’re taking names on a waiting list for patients aged 75 plus for our next phase (of vaccinations),” Wentz said.

Wentz said she hoped to begin phase 1B for vaccine distribution in “one to two weeks.”

Wentz said those with questions or wishing to be included on the waiting list should call 776-6783, extension 6 to reach the LRDU office in the Pierce County Courthouse.

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