Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) is working with other healthcare systems to make a powerful COVID-19 medication available for seriously immunocompromised individuals. Evusheld™ is a monoclonal antibody with FDA emergency use authorization designed to aid in the prevention of COVID-19 in people who are seriously immunocompromised or who have had serious adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is not a drug that treats COVID-19 and is not something that replaces the very effective and plentiful vaccines we have available,” says Dr. Allen Radner, Chief Medical Officer at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System and CEO, Salinas Valley Medical Clinic. “Evusheld™ is protection we can offer people whose bodies don’t respond to the traditional COVID-19 vaccine.”
The SVMHS state-of-the-art pharmacy is acting as the Monterey County depot for Evusheld™, storing the product at 2-8 degrees Celsius and facilitating the distribution of Evusheld™ to all of the area’s healthcare systems and hospitals. Physicians working with qualifying patients submit requests. The medication is being equitably distributed and administered by the other hospitals in the community.
“For those who don't respond well to vaccines, Evusheld™ intramuscular shots put COVID-fighting antibodies directly into immunosuppressed patients,” says Dr. Radner. “We believe one treatment provides protection for up to six months. We want physicians to know this drug is available for those people who meet distribution criteria.”
Qualifying patients are generally seriously immunocompromised and fall into two categories:
- Individuals who have moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or receipt of immunosuppressive medications or treatments and may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination or
- For whom vaccination with any available COVID-19 vaccine, according to the approved or authorized schedule, is not recommended due to a history of severe adverse reaction (e.g., severe allergic reaction) to a COVID-19 vaccine(s) and/or COVID-19 vaccine component(s)
Salinas resident Melissa Herrera is one of those severely immunocompromised individuals. She lives with Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The 36-year-old mother has done everything possible to protect herself against COVID-19 including getting vaccinated and boosted with a third shot. Still, she felt vulnerable to the virus.
“Even though I am fully vaccinated, I worried that if I got the virus, my body wouldn’t be able to fight it off,” says Melissa Herrera. “There was this constant fear and anxiety because no matter how much I limited my social contact, I worried that one of my kids or other family members could get it and expose me too.”
Melissa’s rheumatologist suggested her immune system would benefit from getting Evusheld™ and she jumped at the opportunity. “I didn’t hesitate for a second and feel much better knowing I have that added layer of protection. I expected to feel a little achy and flu-like because I did after getting the regular vaccine, but I felt fine. I’m really glad it’s available locally.”
Monterey County is receiving limited federal allocations of Evusheld™ and SVMHS currently has approximately 300 doses of the Monoclonal Antibody. Evusheld™ is administered as two separate consecutive intramuscular injections, preferably in the hip/buttocks area. AstraZeneca’s analysis completed last year showed that the drug reduced the risk of getting COVID-19 by 77% and that the protectionfrom a single two-shot treatment lasted for at least six months. Qualifying patients interested in the treatment should consult with their physician.