Bay Area frontline workers to be first to receive COVID-19 vaccine

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area hospitals, like Walnut Creek's John Muir Medical Center, will be ground zero when it comes to receiving the very first COVID-19 vaccines once the Federal Drug Administration grants emergency use authorization.

Dr. Nick Mickas is the Medical Director for Clinical Operations and is in charge of "vaccine logistics" for John Muir Health, which has been exploring for months which staff should get the first novel coronavirus vaccine.

"Those would be ICU nurses and staff caring for COVID patients, ER staff caring for COVID patients, or at risk for exposure to COVID patients as they come in the door, extending down to everybody who works at the hospital who could be exposed to COVID patients," said Mickas.

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The race for a COVID-19 vaccine continues as medical experts get closer by the day. The federal government is projecting an effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021 and when we get there the main question will be: who will get priority?

After the initial phase, the vaccine distribution inside John Muir would move on to other employees in the hospital and vulnerable patients, like those over 65 or with other risk factors.

The vaccine distribution plan within John Muir in many ways mirrors what happens at the state and local level.

The big question, once a vaccine is widely available, will people feel comfortable getting it?

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Recent polls suggest that as few as 30% of the public would definitely get it.

"If reputable people like Dr. Fauci tell me that the research is done and it's safe and we should try it, I will," said Danville's Joan Trezek, who identified herself as a senior citizen.

Others want more information. "From the doctors, nurses, people involved in the clinical trials," explained Melanie Perkins. "I'd like to see what information is out there. How's it going to affect me long term?"

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"We'll let the trial finish, we'll make sure there's no increased incidence of adverse events and we'll see how it goes," said Dr. George Rutherford M.D., with the UCSF School of Medicine. "I certainly plan to get the first dose that's available to me."

Hospitals here and across the country could begin receiving and dispensing the vaccines inside their facilities, as soon as next month.

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