(Photo by Nate Pesce/CC BY 2.0)
COVID-19 vaccines are projected to reach the general public by April 2021 according to Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye at the Sacramento County Public Health Department’s public health and COVID-19 forum Thursday.
While the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently being distributed to hospitals in Sacramento County, Phase 1 of the state of California’s plan has started and will entail all frontline healthcare workers, ICU workers and high-risk individuals including people with underlying chronic health conditions to receive the vaccine Kasirye said.
At a public health forum on Dec. 4, former Sacramento County Director of Health Services Dr. Peter Beilenson said the vaccine would be available to the general public in Sacramento County in Phase 3 which would begin in May.
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“After we move from Phase 2, we can move to vaccinating the general public by hopefully April,” Kasirye said.
Kasirye said Phase 2 of the vaccination implementation, projected to start in February 2021, will reach essential and public workers such as law enforcement, paramedics, teachers and public utility workers. Phase 2 will also include the state deemed essential workers.
Kasirye acknowledged there are potential side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine and common concerns the public has in regards to receiving it. Kasirye said that the vaccine has mostly only produced mild cases of fever during implementation at a low rate, and people with severe allergic reactions to medication will have to seek the advice of their health care professionals to find the best course of action.
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The majority of the populations listed in Phase 1 will be vaccinated before anyone in Phase 2 will be eligible for the vaccine as the state plans to limit supply of the two-dose vaccination for one group at a time Kasirye said.
To bend the curve back to the progress Sacramento County had made proceeding the summer months, Kasirye emphasized the importance of restricting gatherings and eliminating contact with people you are not living with as everyone heads into the last of the winter holidays.
The number of positive cases in Sacramento County has surged from four positive cases per 100,000 at the end of October to 54.3 positive cases per 100,000 currently, and Sacramento County’s COVID-19 cases rose to 852 confirmed cases daily as of Thursday, Kasirye said.
In an attempt to reduce the number of positive COVID-19 cases, the stay-at-home order will remain in effect for approximately six weeks, with bans on non-essential travel and a public curfew starting at 10 p.m., Kasirye said.
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Cities surrounding Sacramento like Folsom and Rancho Cordova have looked to continue the reopening of elementary schools after the winter break if the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases remain under state implemented thresholds. Middle schools and high schools will remain closed and will most likely not reopen due to the vaccine because it has not been approved for people under the age of 16, Kasirye said.
This was the last scheduled public health forum regarding COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.