Limited supply, who will get a Covid vaccine first?

High-risk health care workers, first responders, and the most vulnerable Vermonters will be first in line for Covid-19 vaccines. 

Even as questions remain about when a Covid vaccine will be available and how many doses Vermont will initially receive, state officials have decided they will prioritize vulnerable residents and people in group settings such as elder care facilities and prisons, according to a report filed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week. 

“The bottom line is that Vermont will be ready to distribute an approved vaccine, when one becomes available from the federal government,” said Gov. Phil Scott at a press conference Friday. “We’ll be prepared to distribute whatever we have, whether it’s one, or 623,000.”

President Donald Trump said at the debate Thursday that a vaccine would be ready by the end of the year. Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine urged Vermonters to take that prediction with a grain of salt. “If that’s true, Vermont will probably see hundreds of doses, not thousands,” he said.

When it does arrive, state health officials will roll out the first round of immunizations in vaccine clinics, offered for high-risk health care workers, elderly Vermonters in group homes, and people with underlying conditions that put them “a significantly higher risk” if they get the virus.

The state will also focus on offering immunizations to elderly residents. A CDC contract allows long-term care facilities to enroll with either CVS or Walgreens pharmacies to receive free vaccinations on-site for residents and staff. In the next round of doses, the vaccine will be made available to other groups, including teachers, school staff, and child care workers, people living in homeless shelters or group homes, essential workers, older Vermonters and people at moderately high risk. That group will be able to get vaccinated at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and hospitals, according to the report.

The third phase will allow for vaccinations for children, young adults and other workers, before the final phase opens up the process to all remaining individuals. 

The vaccine will be free to Vermonters, and to the state, Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith said Friday. The federal government will cover the cost with CARES Act money. 

The logistics of distribution will depend on what vaccine is ultimately approved. More than 50 vaccines are in some stage of research or development, each with different requirements for use, storage, and distribution. Some must be stored at sub-zero temperatures as low as -70 degrees Celsius. Many require two doses.

It’s also not clear what vaccines will be effective. Some researchers are trying to create a vaccine using a modified coronavirus to provoke an immune response. Other efforts rely on a piece of the genetic code, a protein, or RNA from the virus. 

Vermont likely won’t be first in line to receive the doses; the federal government will likely send the highest number of vaccines to larger states with higher levels of infections, according to Levine. Ultimately, “the goal, of course, is to have enough vaccines for every person in the state,” he said. 

Even the first phases of roll-out could mean delivering and administering doses to hundreds of thousands of Vermonters. As the Department of Health targets people critical to the relief efforts, it will oversee distribution to an estimated 30,000 health care workers. 

The state will simultaneously roll out an information campaign urging residents to get the vaccine, via social media, flyers, and advertisements. A Pew survey conducted in September showed that only about half of Americans will “definitely” get a Covid vaccine. Many expressed concerns around safety or political objections. 

Levine said he didn’t know many Vermonters might be willing to get the vaccine.

But he assured Vermonters that any vaccine wouldn’t be distributed until it has met U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety standards. In addition, the vaccine must be recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Levine said.

“I will be the first to encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to step up to the vaccine when it’s available to them,” he said. 

Health officials will continue to iron out the details and the logistics in coming months. “We’ll be ready for the vaccine before the vaccine is ready for us,” Levine promised. 

Limited supply, who will get a Covid vaccine first?  Limited supply, who will get a Covid vaccine first? Reviewed by Anson Moore on October 24, 2020 Rating: 5

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