Bassett Healthcare is offering a vaccine clinic to the community, including children ages 5 to 17, on Saturday, December 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bassett Medical Center’s outpatient clinic in Cooperstown.
The clinic will offer boosters for the Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer as well as first and second Pfizer doses for children and flu shots.
Those receiving vaccines need to be established patients of Bassett Healthcare network in order to participate.
A pop-up clinic by the Otsego County Department of Health will be giving COVID vaccines at the Otsego County Fair.
The vaccines will be available from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug 3. and Friday, Aug. 6.
The available vaccines will be the Pfizer and the Johnson and Johnson.
“We’re excited to be a part of the event and to offer a convenient opportunity for folks to receive their COVID vaccine,” Heidi Bond, director of public health for Otsego County, said in a media release. “We encourage fairgoers to come see us for their vaccine, ask questions and take advantage of the other public health information and resources we will have at hand.”
People who get the vaccine will be eligible for prizes including a $100 gift card to Brooks BBQ among other things.
On Friday, Jan. 29, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson announced its vaccine had proven effective in Phase 3 studies. This brings a third vaccine on line in the fight against COVID-19 and potentially increases the pace of vaccinations by 50 percent.
Additionally, the J&J protocol is for a single dose and the storage requirements are much less stringent than those of the two vaccines already available in the United States, Moderna and Pfizer.
On the other hand, the statistics on efficacy for the J&J vaccine are not as high as those reported for the other two. It is reported as 85 percent effective globally against severe disease and 70
percent effective against moderate to severe disease.
Many scientists consider this on balance very good news.
If we remember back to last year the goal for efficacy was 70 percent which would have made that equivalent to the flu vaccine. Only because of higher numbers with Moderna and Pfizer do 85 percent and 70 percent seem low.
Furthermore, the J&J vaccine is a one-dose regimen and requires only basic refrigeration to last for weeks, making it much easier to distribute and complete a course of vaccine (i.e., only one shot).
This should especially help in people hesitant to get a shot at all.
In a daily press conference Monday, Jan. 4, Governor Cuomo called out Fox Hospital: If the Oneonta facility doesn’t use its anti-COVID vaccine allocation more quickly, it won’t get any more.
The governor said Fox had only used 18 percent of the doses it has.
Bassett Healthcare Network’s spokesman, Karen Huxtable-Hooker, said that figure is actually 30 percent as of Tuesday the 5th, both at Fox and its Tri-Town Campus in Sidney.
In all, she said, more than 2,000 Bassett Network staffers had been vaccinated, with 52 percent of the Moderna virus supply used up. The network employs 5,200 people over nine counties.
Bassett Hospital received its Moderna allotment Dec. 23, and immediately began vaccinating, Huxtable-Hooker said, and continues “to offer vaccination clinics for our health care staff, as do all of the hospitals in the Bassett network.”
The pace of vaccinations is just one challenge Bassett is facing, along with rising hospitalization – “double what it was in November,” she said. “The continued escalation of COVID-19 cases is challenging resources, but (at Bassett Hospital) we are managing.”
“Fortunately, with five hospitals in the network, we are able to make use of all available beds to meet patient needs to identify space within our hospitals that can appropriately be converted for patient care needs as demand dictates,” she said.
On a “case-by-case basis,” she continued, some elective surgeries that require hospital says have been postponed “ to have those beds available for seriously ill patients,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Despite such challenges, healthcare workers see the vaccine as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Some staffers have declined the vaccine, “but this has been the exception,” the spokesman said. “Most staff members are anxious to receive the vaccine as soon as they are eligible and can be scheduled.”
While there are two bills in the state Legislature seeking to mandate that healthcare workers and others be vaccinated, they have not yet been acted on. (See related story, Page A1).
Nor has the state Department of Health issued any such order, so “we cannot require staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but we are strongly encouraging it,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, she said, masks, social distancing, hand-washing and the like is being encouraged to reduce transmission, she said.
At his Sunday, Jan. 3 press conference, Cuomo said 70-90 percent of New Yorkers need to be vaccinated to push back COVID-19, part of his dismay at the vaccination rate.
If hospitals do not use up their allotment they may face fines and/or possible disqualification from future vaccine distributions, according to Cuomo’s statements.
“Bassett Healthcare Network continues holding vaccination clinics with the goal of using the vaccine allocated to us,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, asymptomatic rapid testing will be available to the public as long as supplies last at Bassett’s Oneonta location on 125 Main St.
Reservations are required by calling 607-433-6510 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The network is working to schedule other locations and dates for asymptomatic testing.
Many people have asked me to explain vaccines to them, and specifically the ones for COVID-19. They are most concerned with how they work, when they will be available, and if they will be safe.
Hopefully, this column will help.
The terms vaccine and vaccination derive from the Latin name Variola vaccinae, which means small pox of the cow. Vacca is Latin for cow.
The term vaccine was first devised by Sir Edward Jenner in 1778 based on the fact that he used an inoculation with cowpox to elicit a protective reaction to smallpox.
In 1881, Louis Pasteur proposed that the term vaccine be used to cover all new protective inoculations that were developed in order to honor Jenner.
There are multiple types of vaccines and at least one of each type has been tried or is being developed for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
The following are the different types of vaccines that are administered to a subject to induce a protective immune response along with examples of each.
►INACTIVATED: a dead copy of the infectant, e.g., polio
►ATTENUATED: A weakened version of the infectant, e.g., yellow fever, measles, mumps
►TOXOID: an inactivated form of the poison made by the infected cell, e.g. tetanus and diphtheria
►SUBUNIT: a portion of the protein of the infectant that cannot cause the disease by itself, e.g., hepatitis B and HPV (human papillomavirus, causes genital warts and cervical cancer).
►CONJUGATE: Weak version of the infectant, coupled with a strong antigen for something benign to increase the immune response to the weakened version, e.g., Hemophylus influenza.
►RECOMBINANT DNA, where a stand of genetic material for part of the infectant is inoculated into the host’s cells and teaches the cells to make an antigen for part of the infectant.
►RNA: This is the approach that right now is the most promising in treating SARS-CoV-2. A portion of messenger RNA is inoculated into the host cells and tells the host to make a portion of the infecting virus. This technique has not been used for human diseases clinically before.
Typically, it takes 15-20 years to bring a new vaccine to market, and less than 5 percent of candidates will succeed. The speed in which the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has come to be distributed really is warp speed.
The first regular immunizations begin a week ago Monday in Great Britain. This is less than a year from recognition that there was a new disease and 10 months from identifying the genetic code of the virus causing it.
Currently there is only one vaccine approved for use, the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech. This is awaiting approval along with that of Moderna in the United States. Pfizer’s was approved, distributed Sunday, and injection began Monday. Approval for Moderna may come later this week.
Both of these are of the RNA type.
There are several reasons that things have moved with lightning speed.
One, the unprecedented cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and academic and government research labs.
Two, the approval of governments to allow fast-tracking such that steps of the development are done in parallel. In my mind, there is no doubt the government’s Warp Speed initiative helped move the process along.
Three, scientists have been working for 10 years on what they call pandemic preparedness. In this case they had developed a template that would allow the development of vaccines for newly emerging diseases quickly. Essentially as one scientist called it, plug and play.
In my next column I will discuss plans for the roll out and how it has gone up to that point.
Normally, the time from submission of data to approval by a government agency takes two years. In the case of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines it is one week.
After approval, time to distribution takes more than a year while the pharmaceutical companies develop and implement manufacturing plans.
Amazing what we can do when everyone is desperately pulling in the same direction.