Montgomery County was affected by the mixup of the Moderna vaccine second doses being administered as first doses, an error that was announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) on Wednesday.
The mistake has created a shortage of second doses in PADOH, which told Montgomery County it would not receive enough doses to vaccinate all 5,279 residents scheduled for the second dose next week.
“I want to reassure anyone who is expecting to receive a second dose next week that if we aren’t able to offer you a second dose next week we will contact you and schedule you for a future date,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Dr. Valerie Arkoosh.
Montgomery County will only receive about 50 percent of the second doses it was promised. Arkoosh won’t know the exact number until the shipment arrives.
“Until I have some certainty about what we are receiving it’s hard for me to give you a plan in terms of how we are going to manage what comes next,” Arkoosh said.
Arkoosh was confident those who are waiting to get their second dose of the Moderna vaccine would get it in time so that it would be completely effective, citing the vaccine trial data that showed it was effective up to a maximum of 42 days after getting the first dose and a minimum of 28 days.
“We are working closely with PADOH to make sure that is the case, and they have assured us we will have enough vaccine in time to provide that second dose within that approved maximum interval of 42 days.”
Angered by the news of this mixup with the second doses, Arkoosh guaranteed she would do everything she could to make sure those who needed the second dose would get it.
“I am watching the situation very closely, I will be in regular communication with PADOH and make it very clear to them that if we have any concerns here in Montgomery County that there could be individuals that we gave the first dose to that we wouldn’t be able to get the second dose in 42 days,” Arkoosh said.
Those residents who are expecting to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine next week should wait to receive an email from Montgomery County to figure out if they are being rescheduled for their second dose based on availability.
Arkoosh could say with certainty that they have kept a close watch on the Montgomery County Office of Public Health vaccine distribution and know which doses have been administered where.
“I can assure you with 100 percent certainty that our team has been meticulous about keeping the first and second doses separated and that here in terms of our office of public health that our doses have been given appropriately,” Akroosh said.
Surprised and disappointed to learn of the delay, Arkoosh said the county was assured multiple times that they would get the second doses they needed, only for that promise to fall flat.
“We had been assured repeatedly that those second doses would be there for us and as a consequence we have been giving our first dose as quickly as possible. I don’t know where exactly the problem came up, they have not shared any additional information with me in terms of where there were providers that got confused or deliberately gave second doses as first doses.
However, Arkoosh is determined to fix PADOH’s mistake and push for everyone to get their second dose on time.
“My team and I have already spent the last 36 hours really thinking through what our options are, how we are going to communicate with people who got their second dose through us, make sure we don’t lose track of anybody,” Arkoosh said. “We will get this done, we will find a way. Even if I have to go camp out at PADOH for second doses, we will find a way to get these second doses.”
The COVID-19 numbers in Montgomery County are decreasing with a positivity rate of 6.72 percent since February 11. There were a total of 940 new cases in MontCo from Feb. 10 to 16 making the daily case count 134. There were 15 more deaths from the coronavirus in Montgomery County leaving a total of 1,181 deaths from COVID-19. There were two days last week where the positivity rate was below the five percent threshold of considering the virus contained.