Tom Ryan, Boone County Health Dept. emergency preparedness coordinator, said the county expects to receive shipments of COVID-19 vaccines within two weeks.
Health officials expect the vaccines to be given to health care workers and vulnerable populations in Phase 1 of a plan outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health care workers include ER, ICU and CCU employees. Vulnerable populations include people with comorbidities.
On Dec. 10, the Food and Drug Administration will review a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc., an American pharmaceutical company, and BioNTech SE, a German biotechnology company. The vaccine could be given emergency-use authorization soon after. Shipments will then be sent. Moderna, an American biotechnology company, also announced the FDA will review its vaccine for emergency-use authorization Dec. 17.
“Within five days of the approval of the (emergency-use authorization), shipments will start going out to those identified hospitals and other areas,” said Ryan, noting Witham Health Services would be among the hospitals.
Phase 1 could last into January, Ryan said. A site for vaccine distributions have not been finalized. Witham Health Services will distribute the vaccine, and Ryan said hospital officials are determining which site to use.
Phase 2 will include inoculating critical populations such as essential government workers, teachers and other essential workers outlined in the CDC’s critical infrastructure sectors. The 16 critical infrastructure sectors are listed at cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19.
Phase 2 will begin after the completion of Phase 1, but Ryan said it is unknown when that will be. He estimated that mid-February might be the earliest start of Phase 2 in Boone County.
Due to hospital staff shortages, Ryan said the BCHD asks for volunteers willing to help administer vaccines during Phase 1 and especially during Phase 2, when health officials expect more people will need to be vaccinated. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the BCHD at 765-482-3942.