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Riverside Health System on standby for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna Vaccine
Posted at 11:02 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 00:18:37-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Less than a week after frontline workers at Riverside Health System rolled up their sleeves for Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot, a second vaccine is making its way to Hampton Roads.

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine left Mississippi’s distribution center Sunday heading to dozens of sites, including Riverside Health.

Riverside’s Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer Cindy Williams said they’re expecting 5,500 doses of Moderna’s vaccine as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

“We haven’t gotten the tracking information yet, but we are on standby,” she said. “That will be spread amongst our five facilities.”

Unlike Pfizer’s, Moderna’s shots don’t need to be stored at extremely low temperatures and has a longer shelf-life.

“I think one of the things that’s going to be most helpful with this vaccine is once it’s thawed, we’ve actually got 30 days in which to use it, so that’s much better than what we have today, which is 120 hours,” Williams said.

Williams got her Pfizer shot Saturday.

“I feel fine,” she said. “It went pretty smoothly, pretty much like any vaccine you would get….I did go through my monitoring for 15 minutes after the fact. This morning, starting last night, I had a little bit of typical pain in my upper arm where injection was, very much like I would feel with the flu vaccine, and I took acetaminophen and the pain hasn’t bothered me all day. I feel fine. So far so good.”

So far, more than 1,750 Riverside healthcare workers have been vaccinated since the process began on Wednesday Dec. 16. The healthcare system received a total of 2,925 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

“We far exceeded what our goal was for the first week,” said Williams.

Sometime next week, Riverside is hoping to start immunizing some its nursing home residents – a population that’s been devastated by the virus.

“We’re working closely with Walgreens to understand when they may start to vaccinate those residents and how we would best collaborate with them to make sure that our residents get offered vaccines as soon as possible,” Williams said. “I don’t think we got final answers at this point.”

Late Sunday afternoon, the CDC panel recommended who should be next in line for the potentially life-saving drug. People aged 75 and older, first responders, teachers, and food workers are just some of those among the next priority group.

“Some of the individuals included in those essential, frontline workers are folks such as police; firefighters; those involved in education, both teachers, daycare and the support staff; individuals within food and agriculture; public transportation, and there are others in the group,” said Williams.

To find out more on when you could get the COVID-19 shot, or if you have questions about the vaccine itself, Riverside Health is holding a Facebook live event Monday at 5 p.m. The event will also be streaming on its YouTube channel.