Distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for Covid-19 has begun in Massachusetts, primarily for health-care personnel and nursing home residents and staff. This is exciting, even if the rollout is slow and below forecast.
Dr. Sobel and I each received our first dose of the Moderna vaccine last week. Our second dose is in 4 weeks. It will still take another two weeks thereafter to get our antibodies up to full strength for true protection. We are unclear when our staff will be eligible.
Protecting our patients – start date unclear
We have no definitive information to date from the Baker administration, but are hopeful that vaccine will be available for the oldest in our population (75 and over) and younger people but with complicating medical conditions (typically 65 and older) by early February. Obviously we will be excited should vaccine be available sooner, but the start date could well be March. We hope to know better by mid-January. We will email everyone promptly with any definitive updates.
Younger and healthier people should (as of now) plan for vaccine distribution starting April-May. This is an informed guess, nothing more. Expect updates.
We can immunize you promptly when supplied
We invested in a new vaccine refrigerator and -40C freezer. We ran successful high-throughput influenza clinics in October (using a calendar signup on our website). We are ready to go to immunize our patients when we get vaccine.
Orchard Health Care signed up with Mass. DPH as a vaccine clinical center. We provided them detailed information (without names) about our patient population. DPH will inform us when they will send us vaccines (most likely Moderna) and the quantity they will send. We are confident we will immunize within 3-4 days everyone in our practice who is eligible during a given vaccine distribution.
You must still keep yourself safe
Nothing has changed. We have three or four months of high danger with extremely high infection rates all over Massachusetts now (averaging 4,500 daily cases compared to 300 or so late summer). January may well be worse than December if there is another bump following Christmas holidays. We fear that will be the case and have in fact seen even more cases in our members in the weeks since Thanksgiving.
Moreover, you have all read that there is a viral mutation that is much more transmissible (though apparently doesn’t produce more severe disease nor elude the vaccine) which is rapidly spreading. This will certain increase the case count over the next few months.
DO NOT RISK YOURSELF INDOORS!
Do not engage in prolonged indoor group gatherings (except with regular household members) now or until springtime. Separation and cloth masks are simply not up to the task. With current extremely high infection rates in the community, there is a 1:20 chance that someone in a 10-person gathering is actively highly infectious though asymptomatic. For a group of 20, the risk is 1:10. No dinner is worth that risk; no family gathering should be that potentially lethal.
Please read my associated post if you would like to see how those risk numbers can be calculated.