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Getting a vaccine where it needs to go

Coronavirus Daily

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Getting a vaccine where it needs to go

Distributing a Covid-19 vaccine might make developing one look easy.

States are putting the finishing touches on plans they're required to send to the federal government by Friday. These will cover whom to vaccinate first, where they will send those doses, how they will collect the data and a slew of other details crucial to seamlessly pulling off the massive inoculation effort.

But there's a big piece of the puzzle missing: Nobody knows which—if any—of the vaccine candidates will be authorized and when. That makes planning ahead challenging.

"It won't be as easy as a vaccine is approved now send it out," said Molly Howell, North Dakota's immunization program manager.

Each of the leading vaccine candidates varies slightly, meaning states may need to refine their strategies once they know which they will be administering. For instance, some need to be stored at 94 Fahrenheit degrees below zero, while others need only be refrigerated. Some require two shots and others just one.

Local leaders don't yet know how many doses they will receive or whom they should administer them to, making planning where to send them somewhat of a mystery. Initial guidelines put health-care workers first. Even that definition can be questionable.

"You have your hospital health-care workers, your private clinic health-care workers, you have your pharmacists, your urgent care, your local health department health-care workers, long-term care health-care workers," said Bob Swanson, director of the division of immunization at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Friday marks an important day in the planning phase. It's just one step in a complex process.—Angelica LaVito

Latest podcast

U.S. Vaccine Distribution Strategy Is a Mess

States are racing the clock to meet a Friday deadline from the Federal government to submit plans to distribute a vaccine, once an effective one is ready. But Angelica LaVito reports that they're putting together their strategies effectively blindfolded. Get the latest episode here


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