The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has opened online registration for the initial phase of COVID-19 vaccinations on Tinian, which will be done this Sunday at the Tinian Health Center from 10am to 3pm.
And since the Moderna Inc. vaccines are easier to transport, those are the vaccines that will be brought to Tinian. About 400 vaccines are expected to be used on Tinian for Phase 1A, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief operation officer Subroto Banerji, about the same number that will also be used on Rota. CHCC will be going to Rota the following Sunday.
The Moderna vaccines are capable of being shipped to Rota and Tinian without being placed in ultracold storage.
Banerji stated that ease of transport for the Moderna vaccine is why CHCC chose to use these vaccines for the outreach on Tinian and Rota. This is also why CHCC has used some Moderna vaccines for some individuals who are homebound or bed-bound, as CHCC can bring the vaccines to these patients.
“The challenge is that the Pfizer vaccine doesn’t work well once it’s moved a lot, so we bring it across the street into our vaccination tent in refrigeration [and] it stays there. The Moderna vaccine is much easier to be mobile. So that’s allowed us to start homebound, or bed-bound, [vaccination],” said Banerji. So far, 10 individuals on Saipan have received the Moderna vaccine.
Meantime, CHCC has opened up online registration on Saipan for today, Jan. 15, and tomorrow, Jan. 16 for Phase 1B.
Banerji stated that CHCC had to quickly change their strategy on the third week because people weren’t going in. “We had already opened up the vaccine, and we didn’t want to waste it, so we went ahead and opened up to the initial 1B, and then we close it back down,” said Banerji.
Banerji stated that Phase 1A was focused on protecting those individuals who are in direct contact, or hospital staff working at the Kanoa Resort in Susupe who are dealing with COVID-10 patients, first responders who are present when there are positive cases, and individuals who are 65 years old or older. He said it’s been documented that these individuals are more likely to get severe disease should they get infected with COVID-19.
The other group in Phase 1A are individuals living in long-term care facilities, or nursing homes. However, the CNMI does not have long-term care facilities, Banerji said, so Esther Muña, CHCC chief executive officer, decided to replace “long-term care facilities” with individuals who are homebound or bed-bound.