Following an international rush to develop a COVID-19 vaccination, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed the safety and efficacy of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine candidate. An independent committee will meet with the agency December 10 to discuss emergency use of the vaccine. From there, it is expected that the vaccine will be distributed throughout the U.S. within 24 hours of approval.
The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech, consists of two shots administered three weeks apart. The Phase 3 clinical trial showed the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95% with no serious adverse effects.
Pfizer’s vaccine will require serious distribution and supply chain discussions due to the need to store it at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit. A vaccine candidate by Moderna requires storage at minus-4 degrees. The company has requested the FDA fast track approval after a Phase III trial showed it was also 95% effective.
Governors and health departments continue to encourage Americans to get their flu shot and wear a mask whenever they’re outside the home.
The federal government will distribute vaccine doses to individual states. The states have developed protocols on how distribution will occur within the guidelines provided by the federal government. OFS sector workers will receive vaccines in an order determined by their state and locality. This will be relevant as the “essential worker” category comprises more than 70 million individuals nationwide.
Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the CDC had allotted an initial 1.4 million vaccine doses for Texas in December. Doses will begin to arrive next week.
The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) has established the principles for vaccine distribution in Texas. The panel recommended health care worker and other vulnerable residents be the first group vaccinated. The second phase, from February to July, would increase the number of doses to other critical unvaccinated populations. The general public could start to receive vaccination in mid-summer.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has submitted its first version of the vaccination plan to the CDC and is waiting for approval.
In the Texas plan, ‘other vulnerable frontline workers’ are listed as a focus for initial COVID-19 vaccination, however these non-healthcare groups have not yet been defined by the EVAP. Deemed essential workers throughout the pandemic, the OFS sector could receive doses if they are included in this group.
In Houston, Memorial Hermann Health System, Methodist Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital and Harris Health System have been selected as the first distribution sites in the Houston area.
The New Mexico Department of Health drafted its initial vaccination plans in October and recently issued updates.
The state will receive more than 17,000 doses by the end of the month. Healthcare workers and nursing home residents will receive these doses, along with those who have direct contact with patients or work with vulnerable populations.
Later phases and groups have not been finalized but the state is working to identity who are most at risk of facing serious illness. Those groups, which could include essential workers, will have vaccine priority.
Oklahoma’s State Commissioner of Health announced the state will receive 30,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 10,000 of the Moderna vaccine in the next week. Oklahoma’s plan says ‘critical infrastructure personnel’ are included in Phase #3, which will begin when vaccine production details are known.
The Colorado Department of Public Health placed an order with the CDC for 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and will be distributed in phases according to a draft plan. The plan’s first phase will include critical populations such as healthcare workers, people in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
Louisiana is expected to receive about 40,00 initial doses with first shipments going to hospitals. The Louisiana Department of Health’s draft vaccination playbook lays out a detailed plan for the state’s vaccine distribution.
The state is particularly focused on vaccine skeptics. U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a doctor, believes skeptics will become more comfortable as others they know are vaccinated. Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health plan to have a significant marketing campaign and will also rely on grassroots efforts to engage local leaders to urge vaccination.
For additional information on state efforts, contact Tim Tarpley, Vice President Government Affairs.