Marion County is preparing to distribute COVID-19 vaccines through an all-out team effort.
This is according to Mark Lander, Director of the Marion County Department of Health, and Fire Chief James Banta of the Marion County Rescue Team. Both spoke before the Marion County Council to county commissioners Tuesday morning and gave assurances that they were prepared to begin vaccinating the area’s residents against the deadly virus.
“We were very encouraged by that. I wouldn’t say this is the light at the end of the tunnel, but this is the light they can see,” Lander said. “The first priority is getting the shot for the individuals.
Lander told commissioners that a vaccine made by Pfizer received approval for emergency use on December 11, and another Moderna company is expected to receive the same approval sometime this week. Other AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are also expected to be available soon.
Lander said that all vaccines except for the one made by Johnson & Johnson will require two separate injections, which means that residents who receive them will have to come back a second time to get the full dose.
“Everyone is anxiously waiting for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it is a single dose vaccine,” Lander said. “One and done.”
Lander said the Pfizer vaccine, intended for those 16 and over, will be given 21 days apart and be 95 percent effective after the second dose is given. He added that one of the challenges this vaccine faces is that it must maintain a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius.
Likewise, Lander said, the Moderna vaccine can be given to those aged 16 and over, and they will be given in two doses 28 days apart, at a 95 percent effective rate. Lander added that it should be stored at -20 ° C, which makes handling it a little easier.
Also on Tuesday, commissioners approved a measure that would allow rescue workers in Marion County to train in administering vaccinations. Fire Chief James Banta said his department has 402 paramedics on the crew, and every one of them, including himself, will be able to administer vaccinations.
“Our mission has always been to protect life and property,” he said. “This mission remains the same. The challenges change, and this is an example of that.”
Banta said his ministry is 100% committed to being part of the solution to get the COVID-19 virus under control. Committee Chairman Jeff Gould, who has retired from Marion County Fire Rescue and the Marion County Mayor’s Office, said he would be happy to have Paramedic No. 403 available to administer vaccines.
“We’re all ready to end this,” Gould said of the pandemic. “I think everyone in the world is ready for this situation. We hope finally to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope that is it.”