S.E. Williams 

Area resident Marie Davis told the IE Voice if there was a survey of a hundred residents and 99 agreed to take the COVID-19, she would be the 1% to say, “no.”

When asked why she explained, “I want to wait a while and see what side effects may show up. I have several underlying health conditions and although I know I’m at high risk for COVID-19 , I feel really uneasy about the vaccine.”

She continued, “I see too many late-night infomercials about lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for serious problems caused by medications. I’m just not willing to take the risk until I know more about how the vaccine is affecting people.”

Davis is not alone in her hesitation. In the meantime, however, vaccination efforts are already underway in the inland region.

On Wednesday, December 16 San Bernardino County received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines targeted for distribution to 19 county area hospitals.

The same day, frontline healthcare workers at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center became the initial  people in the Inland Empire to receive the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.

In the first wave of shipments, Pfizer sent 327,000 doses to California which included 15,600 destined for  San Bernardino County. Subsequent shipments of the vaccine are expected to arrive on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, the county has established the “San Bernardino County Vaccination Task Force” and produced a COVID-19 Standard Operating Guide designed to ensure the county’s ability to distribute the vaccine as efficiently and effectively as possible.

According to county officials, the guide largely follows guidelines established by the Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health and the County Department of Public Health.

The county has also launched a vaccine-specific information webpage that shares up to date-information regarding where the municipality is relative to the different phases of vaccine distribution, critical FAQs and other resource links.

According to county officials, because the initial vaccine doses are rationed due to the limited number of doses available, frontline healthcare workers are first priority for vaccinations followed by  residents and staff of long term-care and skilled nursing facilities. First responders will also be prioritized for vaccinations with these first groups of recipients.

Phase 2 of the vaccination strategy will include K-12 teachers and staff, childcare workers, critical workers in essential and high-risk industries, residents with comorbidity/underlying health conditions, staff and residents of group facilities as well as older adults who were not included in phase 1.

Phase 3 will focus on young adults, children and workers in industries and occupations not already vaccinated; and Phase 4 will include everyone not already immunized.

“We have a plan in place, and we will move quickly to protect our most at-risk and vulnerable residents,” said Board of Supervisors Chair, Curt Hagman. “That includes making sure we handle and store the vaccine properly.” The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -80 degrees cesium (-120 Fahrenheit). This requires special facilities and materials like dry ice to maintain.

Hagman also acknowledged the county still faces challenges from the virus and will continue dealing with infections and illness for several months.

In the meantime, Davis said she will continue to follow safety measures like wearing a mask and staying at home and watching for immunization results before she decides to take a chance with the vaccine.  

Header Photo: Frontline healthcare worker receiving Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, December 16. (Source: subcounty.gov)

S.E. Williams

Stephanie E. Williams is an award winning investigative reporter, editor and activist who has contributed to several Inland Empire publications. Williams spent more than thirty years as a middle-manager...

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