N. Idaho hospitals prepare to administer COVID-19 vaccine this week

KOOTENAI CO., Idaho — The state of Idaho is slated to receive 13,650 doses of the vaccine in the initial rollout, and District 1—which includes Kootenai County—will receive almost 2,000 of those.

Officials at Panhandle Health say there are still many unknowns about the supply and distribution of the vaccine.

With the vaccine in limited supply, it is being recommended the first doses be administered to frontline healthcare workers caring for COVID patients and long term care facility residents. In the Panhandle, the first shipments will be sent directly to hospitals. After they have been offered the vaccine, it will be distributed elsewhere.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. For Pfizer it is 21 days after the first vaccine, and for Moderna it is 28 days.

Health officials say to expect some general post-vaccination symptoms including fever, headache, and body aches which are more common after the second dose. It will take around two weeks for an individual to build up an immunity after receiving the vaccine.

While the initial number of doses is low, the second and third shipments will be closer to 90,000. Once the vaccine is being shipped in larger numbers, shipments will go to healthcare providers and pharmacies.

In North Idaho alone, there have been more than 13,000 cases of coronavirus so far and 145 deaths, while 78 people remain in the hospital with COVID-19.

Officials say the vaccine will not be mandatory, but it is recommended for anyone ages 16 years and older and those who have recovered from COVID-19. Kootenai Health say they will begin vaccinations on Wednesday.