Vaccinations placed on hold

Moderna works with CDPH to investigate allergic reaction claims

Vaccinations placed on holdBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

As educators, childcare workers and emergency services personnel were prepping to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital announced Monday, Jan. 18, that it would pause it’s drive-through vaccination clinic pending an investigation into a specific batch of the Moderna vaccine.

In a statement earlier this week, Moderna acknowledged a report from the California Department of Public Health that “several individuals at one vaccination center in San Diego” were being treated for allergic reactions following the vaccination.

“The company is fully cooperating with CDPH in investigating these reported adverse events,” said the statement.

The company has tied the issue to a specific batch (number 041L20A) of the vaccine, “with nearly a million doses already distributed to approximately 1,700 vaccination sites in 37 states.” Despite the broad distribution, the adverse reaction does not appear to have occurred anywhere else.

“The investigation is still ongoing and Moderna is working closely with FDA and CDC to understand the clinical cases and whether the broad pause in use of the lot is warranted,” said the release.

RRH clarified Tuesday that none of the local vaccines were from the batch in question, but the hold is out of “an abundance of caution and the interest of public safety.” Anyone with an appointment on or after Jan. 19 would be contacted by a hospital representative to reschedule.

“All appointments currently scheduled, as well as those who have left a message for an appointment up to this time, will be rescheduled in the same order once our vaccination efforts can resume,” said the RRH release. “Unfortunately we cannot make additional appointment bookings or adding to the current wait list at this time until further guidance is received from our state and county on when we will be able to resume.

“To date, RRH has administered close to 1,000 vaccines using both Pfizer and Moderna, with no major side effects reported.”

Meanwhile, the majority of California is under Governor Gavin Newsom's Regional Stay At Home Order, announced Dec. 3, calling residents to stay home except for essential purposes.

A Ridgecrest establishment made the list of businesses cited by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Fury’s Sports Bar on Inyokern Road was one of 11 Kern County businesses that received citations for violating the state’s COVID restrictions.

“ABC prefers voluntary compliance, but it will take enforcement action against businesses that do not comply with health orders. This department would rather gain compliance through conversation and in-person visits” said a statement from the department. “Administrative action can result in placing the license on probation, a suspension, on up to revocation depending on the track record of the business.”

While daily local cases have declined somewhat in the last few days (below 20 new cases per day), the number of positive COVID cases are still on the rise. Health officials continue to urge frequent hand washing, sheltering at home, and wearing masks when it is necessary to be in public.

“We have been significantly impacted,” said RRH CEO Jim Suver to the Ridgecrest City Council Wednesday night. “During the last 45 days or so, more we’ve had more than twice the patients we normally have this time of year. We’ve exceeded our capacity for many, many days.”

Suver said hospital personnel are working long hours and extra shifts to keep up with a “very, very impossible situation.”

“The good news is, a lot of our COVID patients are getting better. But we’re still seeing upticks, so I don’t want to say we’re declining yet. But in the next couple weeks, I hope we start seeing a decline.”

For more on the vaccine, visit rrh.org/covid19vaccine. For state guidelines, see covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.

Pictured: Ridgecrest Regional Hospital’s drive-through vaccination clinic temporarily placed on hold. — Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2021-01-22