California says it is safe to continue to use a batch of Moderna coronavirus vaccine after some people become ill and it has been recommended that the injections be discontinued.
The decision frees up more than 300,000 doses for counties, cities and hospitals struggling to obtain supplies. The State Department of Health on Sunday urged a pause in the use of a specific lot after less than 10 people receiving injections at a vaccination site in San Diego required medical attention, possibly due to rare but serious allergic reactions.
But after a safety investigation and consultation with Moderna and local and federal health authorities, "the state found no scientific basis to continue the pause," and said vaccinations "could be resumed immediately," state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said in a statement.
"These findings should continue to give Californians the confidence that vaccines are safe and effective, and that the systems put in place to ensure vaccine safety are rigorous and scientifically based," Pan said, adding that some of her own family members have it. got.
About 330,000 doses of the batch were distributed to nearly 300 suppliers in California this month. Most had stopped until they received the all-clear.
Cheryl Brennan of Fallbrook was among those who fell ill shortly after an injection last week in Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
“After 18 minutes it was like my throat started to close,” she told KSWB-TV. "My blood pressure went up to 185 above 125, which I think is very life-threatening." Help arrived immediately.
& # 39; They have electrodes connected. They put ice packs on me. I had four EMTs and two nurses helping me and they brought my blood pressure back within 45 minutes, ”said Brennan.
Brennan also said, despite the response, she plans to return for a second dose next month. The vaccine requires two shots for complete immunization.
"Still going absolutely, positively," Brennan said. “My opinion, if I get COVID, I would probably get a lot worse than just those problems. And my husband has underlying health issues, so it's worth taking that opportunity. "
The release of the Moderna doses comes as California officials struggle to meet the challenge of vaccinating everyone waiting for them, including millions of people 65 and older who were recently added to the list of eligibility for health professionals and those in nursing homes .
California, with 40 million people, only gets 400,000 to 500,000 doses of vaccine in a good week, and it could take four to five months to complete vaccinations for people over 65, Pan said at a meeting of the state vaccine advisory committee. the Sacramento Bee.
Despite such concerns, major counties have opened more mass vaccination centers as they grapple with unprecedented demand. Officials are pinning their hopes on President Joe Biden's promise to boost funding for vaccination.
"Under Biden's government, our country has a chance to beat this virus," Senator Scott Wiener said on Wednesday.
Suppliers place vaccine orders that are subject to state review and are submitted to the federal government, which can authorize the order and submit the request to the vaccine manufacturer. Provinces have complained about delay times and unpredictability in distribution.
According to figures from the health ministry, more than 4 million doses had been shipped and about 1.5 million doses administered since Tuesday. Health officials have said the delay may be due in part to the fact that some doses have not yet arrived in the state.
With the all-clear for Moderna's vaccine, San Francisco will be able to use 8,000 doses it put on hold and no longer expects to run out of the vaccine Thursday, as previously feared, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Health officials had received less than 2,000 additional doses for city hospitals and community clinics this week.
The city hopes to vaccinate an estimated 900,000 people living or working in the city by June 30, although the vaccination rate should be doubled or tripled to 10,000 a day.
"The main obstacle we face is not enough doses," Roland Pickens, San Francisco's director of public health, said Wednesday at an executives hearing. & # 39; You only get it one way; you get it for free and you get it from the federal government. "
Los Angeles County, with a quarter of the state's population, was solving early problems with online and dial-up systems that residents over 65 can use to make a reservation for vaccination, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the County Department of Public Health.
But the real problem was delivery. Ferrer said more than 70% of the doses received for next week are already for people getting their second injection.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put in a pitch for vaccination and posted a Twitter video of him getting a shot in his right bicep at the drive-through site at Dodger Stadium.
& # 39; Today was a good day & # 39 ;, he wrote. “I've never been more happy to wait in line. If you qualify, join in and sign up to get your vaccine. Come with me if you want to live! "
Meanwhile, California reported its second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, as well as a drop in hospital admissions below 20,000 for the first time since December 27.
The total of 694 new deaths ranks second to the record 708 reported on Jan. 8, according to the State Department of Public Health.
California surpassed 3 million COVID-19 cases this week since the pandemic began early last year. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, nearly 35,000 people have died.
Most of the state population was still staying at home, caused by a lack of intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients. The spike was attributed to people ignoring social aloofness and wearing masks when gathering for the holidays.
Just a few weeks ago, it was feared that hospitals in hard-hit areas would need to ration care. But statewide hospital admissions have dropped 8.5% in 14 days, with the number of intensive care patients also declining.
Another bit of good news: Positivity for the virus over a seven-day period has fallen below 10% for the first time in weeks – statistically meaning that each infected individual now infects less than one other person.
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