ROCHELLE – The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which utilizes mRNA technology, has made its way into Ogle County and the City of Rochelle this week after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine on Dec. 10.
Illinois will receive 109,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will be sent to 10 hospitals across the state that will serve as distribution centers for the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, with the second vaccine dose taken 21 days after administering the first dose.
Public Health Administrator Kyle Auman updated the Ogle County Board on vaccine distribution plans during the regular board meeting on Dec. 15. Auman said the County will receive 355 doses of the vaccine in the initial shipment arriving this week. Auman also said that hospitals, which will receive the vaccines first, will receive weekly shipments moving forward.
“We are set to receive the vaccine this week,” Auman said. “It will probably be a couple of months before we get to vaccinating everyone. This will be a voluntary vaccine and nobody will be forced to get the vaccine. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and things are looking up.”
In Rochelle, Chief Ancillary Officer Jim Carle said the Pfizer vaccines arrived at Rochelle Community Hospital on the afternoon of Dec. 16. Carle said RCH received 155 doses of the vaccine, which will be administered at the hospital over the next three days. Carle said all 155 vaccines are spoken for and the number of vaccines was determined based on the number of EMS providers throughout Ogle County and the number employees at the hospital.
Illinois received its first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine Monday. Under Phase 1A of the IDPH COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Guide, healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents will receive vaccines first. Auman said that long-term care facilities in Ogle County will partner with Walgreens and CVS to administer vaccines to both residents and staff members.
Phases 1B and 1C could include frontline workers, high-risk adults and seniors ages 65 and older. Both phases, as well as later phases, will require additional guidance from the CDC and ACIP. Auman said the vaccinations of long-term care residents and staff will begin on Dec. 28.
Auman said the Ogle County Health Department will establish distribution points once the county has received adequate amounts of the vaccine. The vaccine will be offered at no cost, although Auman said some facilities may charge administration fees billable to insurance. Auman said it may be a few months before the county can begin vaccinating the general public.
Pfizer and BioNTech are the first companies to have a COVID-19 vaccine approved. Moderna will have its vaccine data reviewed for FDA approval on Dec. 17. Johnson & Johnson, as well as AstraZeneca and Oxford University, are currently conducting late-phase trials. Pfizer’s vaccine was found to be 95 percent effective, while Moderna’s was 94 percent effective.
Ogle County Life Editor Brad Jennings contributed to this story.