The St. Helena Hospital Foundation administered Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday to the most vulnerable residents of Vineyard Valley Mobile Home Park and Silverado Orchards.
Provided the county can supply enough vaccine, the foundation hopes to vaccinate up to 500 people per day from Tuesday through Friday at the Napa Valley College Upper Valley Campus in St. Helena, said Glen Newhart, president of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation.
“This is day one for St. Helena and the upper valley on the road to normal, whatever that normal looks like in the future,” he said. “People have waited for this day for so long, and it’s nice to see the smiles.”
The effort is part of Phase 1B of Napa County’s vaccination plan. Eligibility at this stage is limited to residents 75 and over, their caregivers, first responders, people who work in agriculture and child care, and health care providers who weren’t vaccinated during Phase 1A. Tuesday’s clinic was limited to residents of Vineyard Valley and Silverado Orchards.
“We’re looking at potentially even education, moving into the schools,” Newhart said. “We’re just waiting on some guidance from the county on whether we can move into that.”
Vineyard Valley resident Nancy Batt was the first patient to receive the vaccine on Tuesday. She said the shot wasn’t painful, and she was so thrilled to be vaccinated that she stayed at the clinic as a volunteer, helping with paperwork.
“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity,” she said. “I was told I might have a little soreness tonight, and the second dose might be a little more serious. But I can’t wait to take it.”
“I’m very proud of what the hospital foundation has done to bring this here for the elderly,” she added.
This week’s clinic is invitation-only, so people shouldn’t show up and expect to be vaccinated. People who are eligible under Phase 1B should first contact their doctors, Newhart said.
“As we move further into this vaccination phase, we’ll look at increasing the number of people here onsite and also dispatching our mobile health team to target specific communities in Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga,” he said. “Those will be folks who have difficulty accessing transportation, traditionally disadvantaged groups, et cetera.”
He didn’t offer a timeline on when the next phase will begin.
The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses. Those who are vaccinated this week will return for the second dose in approximately 28 days, supplies permitting, Newhart said.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective two weeks after the second dose. Side effects are minimal, including pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches. Serious reactions are rare, but people who receive the vaccine are monitored onsite for 15 minutes to make sure they don’t experience anaphylactic shock.
While the science behind the vaccine is “very strong,” Newhart said, “this is not the magic protection pill.”
“You still need to mask, wash your hands — everything you’re doing now,” he said. “This provides a layer of protection that is much stronger after the second shot.”
Newhart thanked County Public Health Officer Karen Relucio, Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza and county CEO Minh Tran for helping organize the clinic on short notice.
“These conversations didn’t start happening until last Friday, and we were able to pull this together over the weekend,” Newhart said.
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