Moderna COVID-19 vaccination
The Moderna vaccine. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Vaccine Watch

Moderna doses deemed safe; Safeway and S.C. County team up on 1a doses

Some 5,300 Moderna vaccines in Santa Cruz County — part of a batch of 330,000 statewide — have been cleared for use, freeing up a sizable chunk of the county’s vaccine allotment as it forges a partnership to get dental, pharmacy and other phase 1a workers vaccinated.

The vaccine lot, 41L20A, was put on hold Sunday after a higher-than-expected number of allergic reactions occurred when doses from this lot were used at a mass vaccination site in San Diego. California state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said on Wednesday that officials observed cases of angioedema, swelling under the skin usually caused by an allergic reaction. All recovered within a few days.

Vaccine Watch

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After consulting with the CDC, allergists and others who had administered doses from the batch, the state late Wednesday deemed the Lot 41L20A safe.

“We had further discussions with the County of San Diego Department of Public Health, the FDA, CDC and manufacturer, and found no scientific basis to continue the pause,” Pan said in a statement. “Providers that paused vaccine administration from Moderna Lot 41L20A can immediately resume.”

The end to the Moderna pause frees up a sizable number of vaccines to be distributed from Santa Cruz County’s stash.

About 5,300 doses of the county’s vaccine inventory — or more than 60% of the remaining 8,210 Moderna doses that were to be distributed — are from lot 41L20A. None had been distributed before the state’s decision to pause them.

The development comes as county health officials on Wednesday announced a partnership with the Safeway grocery and pharmacy chain to distribute vaccines to phase 1a recipients.

As part of the deal, Safeway will assist the county with upcoming, unscheduled mass vaccination clinics that can administer doses to 500 individuals per day at a location “to be announced at a later date,” the county said, “beginning with health care workers.”

The county also has “provided 1,200 doses of vaccine to be distributed to four local Safeway stores to be used for specific populations eligible to receive vaccine immediately.” The statement noted that “these points-of-distribution are not open to the general public, and eligible populations will be contacted directly.”

Phase 1a includes 14,700 people countywide, about 5,600 of which have been vaccinated so far. Besides health care workers, the phase includes paramedics, EMTs, firefighters and others providing emergency medical services, dialysis center workers, dental workers, and pharmacists.

Phase 1a also includes nursing home residents and staff — as well as residents and staff in assisted-living facilities — but those vaccines are being coordinated by a separate partnership between Walgreens, CVS and the federal government.

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