MADERA, Calif. (KGPE) – The state has chosen Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera to be a Phase 1 regional pre-positioning COVID-19 vaccine distribution site for the region, Valley Children’s President and CEO Todd Suntrapak said in a statement on Wednesday.
“In this role, we will be expected to receive, store and distribute the vaccine to other healthcare providers and organizations across our region, according to specific (California Department of Public Health) guidelines,” Suntrapak said.
This is not for the general public. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state is anticipating to get 327,000 COVID-19 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by mid-December. The vaccine still has to be approved by the FDA.
A spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said on Wednesday that CDPH will determine allocations for counties “in accordance to a prioritization framework that will be finalized this week.”
Suntrapak said they’re waiting to get more information from CDPH, including an expected delivery date and guidance for distribution.
The Pfizer vaccines have to be stored in an extremely cold temperature. Suntrapak said Valley Children’s has the capacity to store several hundred thousand doses as needed.
The spokesperson for CDPH said that on Oct. 27, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the state to identify up to five sites that could store Pfizer vaccines in ultra-low temperature freezers. In addition, they asked that the sites should be able to administer vaccines to the possible early priority groups.
The spokesperson added that given this criteria, CDPH identified hospitals that:
- Had ultra-low temperature storage capability and/or
- Had a large “highest-risk” healthcare population and/or
- Were willing to redistribute vaccines outside their facility and network
- Geographically spread across the state as best as possible
Valley Children’s was selected as part of seven sites.
The spokesperson said this system “may or may not be used” by the federal government.
“Speaks volumes not only to the quality of care that the hospital provides but just the fact that it is ready to distribute the vaccine,” Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig said in regards to Valley Children’s being selected.
Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias said he’s grateful that it’s close to Fresno.
“We’re grateful as the biggest city in the Central Valley that it’s gonna be so close to proximity to a million people in Fresno County. It’s one of the most modern hospitals we have in the whole Central Valley,” Arias said.
Councilman Luis Chávez asked the state in a letter last week to prioritize the Central Valley when it came to vaccine distribution, something Arias says he agrees with.
“It’s extremely important that the Central Valley be prioritized. We know that we have far less healthcare capacity than any part of the state,” Arias said.