First batch of COVID-19 vaccine not offered locally

Residents in Branch, Hillsdale and St. Joseph counties will not receive the earliest doses of COVID- 19 vaccine, according to Rebecca Burns, health officer for the tri-county health agency.

Burns last week provided an update regarding the vaccine for the health agency board.

She said because rural counties do not have an ultra-cold freezer, they will not be receiving the first batch of Pfizer vaccine.

The Moderna vaccine, however, will be about a week behind Pfizer, she said, adding the agency has storage and handling requirements for that company’s vaccine. Moderna’s vaccine will be sent to local hospitals and the health agency for distribution. Although the priority is still being established for those who first get the vaccine, Burns said, it appears the first will be patients in skilled-nursing facilities and workers in those facilities, and health care workers with direct patient contact.

Next will be hospital workers, along with health department staff actively involved in administering the vaccine.

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