While this plan has not yet been published, it sets out who will receive the vaccine first, where it will be distributed, and how it will be stored and transported.
“This is a mammoth task for a state the size of California,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, which includes state health officials. “You need to distribute this vaccine to as many agencies and groups of health care providers as possible to make it as accessible as possible.
“You need to have them all ready once the vaccine is in place.”
California has received approximately $ 28 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for planning COVID-19 vaccines. That’s 70 cents per inhabitant. The state is currently reviewing what else it will need to launch its historic campaign.
A vaccine is not expected to be approved until late November or December – and there won’t be enough quantities to be released to the general public until at least mid-2021. At a minimum, vaccines are first approved in an emergency using U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval instead of traditional approval.
But the nation can’t wait for a finished product to devise an effective vaccine plan that could require sub-zero refrigeration and a complex distribution system.
In preparation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave states Friday to describe their tailored local efforts. The 15-subject plans vary from place to place and the CDC takes time to organize their oversight. Virginia and Colorado submitted their plans earlier this week.
“It’s a lot of work to find out,” said UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford. “Who will get it? Where will you get it? How many people can you vaccinate per day? How are we going to keep it? How are we going to transport it? ”
“How are we going to keep track of the people who are being vaccinated? What about the supply chain – not just the vaccine, but the needles, syringes, swabs and all the other parts? And we need a surveillance system to keep an eye on adverse events. ”
As soon as a vaccine becomes available, the manufacturer ships it to distribution centers of McKesson Corporation, a partner of the CDC for other vaccine launches. McKesson has two distribution centers – one in Sacramento and one in Memphis – and will deliver the product for distribution to the state health departments.
It is expected that the size of each state’s allotment will depend on its population.
“State and local governments must work with their communities and local businesses to turn unconventional spaces like workplaces, churches, schools and grocery stores into vaccination centers,” said John Auerbach of the Trust for America’s Health.
Bay Area counties say they have participated in discussions on coordinating timing and logistics across the country.
“We are also discussing local distribution protocols with our health partners, hospitals and clinics – and plan to convene a community contribution group to ensure the process follows our mission of achieving balanced health care for all residents,” said Neetu Balram of the Alameda County Public Health Department.
Contra Costa County has also been involved in nationwide plans, although “we don’t yet know when a vaccine will be available or how many doses will be given to Contra Costa County during the initial rollout,” said spokesman Will Harper. Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco counties did not answer questions about their involvement on Friday afternoon.
All California health care providers – from Kaiser and Sutter to large university hospitals and small public hospitals – need to be involved in the planning, Rutherford said. Family doctors could co-administer the vaccine with internists, emergency doctors, gynecologists, and other specialists.
The top of the line vaccine manufactured by Pfizer may require many specialty refrigerators that are only available at academic research centers. This vaccine cannot be stored in the typical doctor’s office cooling systems. Instead, special freezers are required in which medicines can be stored at minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit. It also requires a booster shot, which further complicates the rollout.
As supply will be limited, the plan will have several phases. During phase 1, the vaccine will be given to high priority populations at high risk of exposure or death, e.g. B. to health professionals, first aiders and elderly people in nursing homes. As the supply increases, it will become more widespread.
The state already has a robust and effective structure for immunizing people called The Vaccines for Children Program, Rutherford said. The program has registered more than 4,000 public and private provider websites since its inception in 1995 to protect children from birth to 18 years of age for free.
The new program’s computer system could be based on that program’s expanded framework, he said.
“It’s a very huge planning task,” said Hannan. “Different states are running 50 different training programs and 50 different messages about why the vaccine is critical.” “States have a plan in the books, but every situation is different,” she said. “You can’t take an old plan off the shelf. You need to get in touch with stakeholders. ”
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