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Panhandle Health expecting more than 4,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine can be stored frozen or refrigerated, which helps Panhandle Health with logistics.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Panhandle Health District in North Idaho is expecting thousands of doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine this week after recently receiving its first Pfizer shipment. 

The first shipment of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine contained 1,950 doses for North Idaho, according to PHD spokesperson Katherine Hoyer. Kootenai Health, the area's major hospital, received its shipment directly.

PHD has sent vaccines to area hospitals, along with Heritage Health and Kanisku Health, who will help vaccinate home health care providers who are caring for COVID-19 patients, Hoyer said. 

"That's a really important job, and we're thankful for all these community partners that we have helping us with this distribution and administration," she added.

Dr. Peter Purrington, Chief Clinical Officer for Heritage Health, was the first person within the organization to receive the Pfizer vaccine last Friday. Heritage Health's goal is to have all medical and dental personnel vaccinated by the end of January, Purrington said in a news release.

Though Kootenai Health set a record high for COVID-19 patients on Monday, Dec. 22, with 86 and 30 of those requiring critical care, the hospital has been able to vaccinate nearly 700 employees against the virus. 

This week, PHD is scheduled to receive its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine containing 4,200 doses. The Food and Drug Administration authorized an emergency rollout of the vaccine on Friday. 

Moderna's vaccine can be stored frozen or refrigerated, which helps the health district with logistics, Hoyer said. The health district is already receiving orders from health care partners who also want to receive the Moderna vaccine. 

"It really depends on the facility, how they want to do that with their employees. If they want some to have Pfizer, some to have Moderna. Obviously, if we have vaccines available, we just want to get it out to those who need it," Hoyer said.

Hoyer said the health district has not yet heard when it will receive the next shipment of Pfizer's vaccine. They have been promised that one will arrive within three weeks so people who got their first dose of the vaccine can receive the second. 

PHD has not received any reports of severe adverse reactions or side effects from anyone who has been vaccinated so far, Hoyer said.