Diamond Physicians is committed to the health and safety of our staff, patients, and community. 2020 has been a difficult year in many ways but there are a few bright spots that could lead us back to normalcy. COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun and our plan to administer the vaccine to members is outlined below.
As of now, COVID-19 vaccines are in very limited supply and allotment is solely determined by the Texas Department of Health. Under their guidance, the vaccines are available to certain groups of people but will expand over several weeks to months. We are hoping the availability and speed of vaccination increases quickly. The distribution of the vaccine will be technically challenging given the temperature requirements along with logistically challenging given the numbers of people needing to be vaccinated.
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) available and two more in the foreseeable pipeline (AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson). Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require 2 shots over a 4-week period. After the vaccine, it takes several weeks to develop a protective antibody response, and with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both doses are required to achieve the 95% response rate. We also do not know yet whether vaccination prevents transmission or only results in a mild infection, but an individual may still be contagious to others (research ongoing to answer this question). Therefore, you should continue to take precaution for several more months with distancing, masks, handwashing etc.
The COVID-19 vaccines available are made from mRNA gene of the virus to trigger the immune system to create antibodies and an immune response to protect reinfection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease. The mRNA carries a code or message which trains your cells to produce the viral spike protein. These are not infectious and do not make one sick. Once these proteins are produced, our bodies can produce an immune response against the COVID-19 virus (antibodies). The concept of using mRNA to produce useful and needed proteins is not new and has been around a long-time.
Overall, vaccines are effective because they protect you from getting infected but also protects others as well. It will be a significant amount of time before we can consider herd immunity but eventually the target will be met. Due to the temperature restrictions, most outpatient vaccinations will be via Moderna vaccine which received EUA from FDA on 12/18/2020. The Moderna vaccine doesn’t require extreme cold storage, unlike the Pfizer vaccine. This vaccine is approved for ages 16 years and over and requires 2 doses 28 days apart. Once we have a confirmed timeline, we will provide detailed information on the vaccine for you. As of right now, there is no ability to order or purchase the vaccine. The latest information on Texas COVID-19 vaccine plan along with the details can be found here.
Currently the plan is split into phases and in the process of completing Phase 1A. This initial phase is for frontline healthcare providers and essential staff caring for COVID patients. Certain areas in DFW area have started moving to Phase 1B which would include patients above age 65+ years and those deemed as high-risk. There is an extremely limited quantity of the COVID-19 vaccines, but plans are to have increased vaccines available in the coming weeks via government and local health authority release. As we move to Phase 1B there will not be enough vaccine for everyone at the same time but in due time this will become easier to obtain.
Phase1Bare potentially eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas, but this is solely depending on availability of the vaccine. Phase 1B recipients include:
- People 65 years of age and older
- People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
- Cancer or undergoing treatments
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Solid organ transplantation
- Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
As noted above, Diamond Physicians is awaiting approval and delivery of the vaccinations for our patients and will keep you updated as we find out more. We recognize the urgency that many of you feel to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, werequest that all COVID related inquiries are emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to update our members with new information via this electronic newsletter.
The federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself, if this changes we will let you know. Some outside healthcare providers or pharmacies may charge a fee to administer the vaccine. As a Diamond member, once we receive the vaccine,there will not be any charges for this service. There are limited locations of allotted COVID-19 vaccines that could accommodate Phase 1B patients (65+ yrs or high-risk), see locations per the official website link provided below. The locations noted may not be open to non-Healthcare providers and it is strongly suggested to callspecifically to confirm. Do not show up at the hospital, clinic or pharmacy location for the vaccine. The link for the COVID-19 locations. There are plans for Dallas and Tarrant County to set up mass vaccination sites for residents meeting criteria in the coming weeks.
- Dallas County will be transitioning to Phase 1B and released website with registration list which can be found along with other useful information.
- Collin County has begun waitlist sign up for assignment of COVID-19 vaccine for residents meeting the criteria. The website link.
- Tarrant County has an online sign up list for residents meeting the criteria and will contact you to schedule appointment once vaccine is available.
- Denton County opened registration for county residents with link below. The county said registration will reopen when they receive additional doses of the vaccine. Go here for more details.
While waiting for the vaccine and the foreseeable months even after receiving it, the CDC and public health officials recommend continuing to avoid large crowds, social distance, wear facemasks when with other people not in your household and wash your hands. We can slow the spread of coronavirus together. As always, contact your Diamond Physician if you have symptoms or have been exposed.
We will continue to keep you updated and working hard to get ready access for our Diamond patients and community. We appreciate you entrusting us with your care.