While Deaconess works to distribute the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to front line workers, the Warrick County Health Department is preparing to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to distribute to the general public.

Warrick County Health Department Director Aaron Franz said Deaconess Health System was chosen as one of five hospital groups across the state to distribute the first Pfizer vaccines, but when his department receives vaccines they will be Moderna vaccines. Franz said his department was notified in November that Warrick County would receive the Moderna version for COVID-19 prevention.

While there wasn’t a reason given, Franz said it is likely a result of storage capabilities. He said both vaccines are similar and require two doses, but the Pfizer vaccine must be stored in ultra cold temperatures, which would be difficult for the county health department.

Ultimately, Franz said Deaconess will primarily vaccinate frontline workers including staff working with patients with COVID-19, like EMS, fire, law enforcement and nursing home staff. He said meanwhile, the health department is gearing up to vaccinate the general public.

Franz said it is still unknown when the county will get vaccines to distribute to the general public, but plans are already in place for the effort to vaccinate as many people as possible. He said the vaccines will likely be prioritized for individuals at a higher risk for the virus given that those populations have been prioritized throughout the pandemic.

“We do foresee that the next vaccines that come in, will be targeted for those at high risk,” he said.

However, Franz said, like the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccination plan will be different from other vaccination plans.

When health departments vaccinated individuals for H1N1, health departments were the primary source, Franz said. But, this time, hospitals, doctors offices and pharmacies — including CVS and Walgreens — will be a part of the plan to vaccinate the general public.

“That’ll change the game a little,” he said.

In the end, Franz said the Warrick County Health Department has submitted a plan to the state detailing a plan for vaccination including logistics, resources available and resources needed, but there hasn’t been any official word from the state on the exact plan on how county health departments will execute the mass vaccination.

“We’re prepping for our role, but I don’t know what our role is going to be,” he said.

Regardless, Franz said he plans to get the vaccine and wants to show that they’re safe. He said vaccination is something the health field and local health department have been succeeding at for decades.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s something we know how to do,” he said. “One of the things that we do is vaccinations here. It’s part of our job. I’m not afraid of that.”

For information on vaccination, visit https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/vaccine/index.htm or https://www.deaconess.com/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccine.

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