By Rachel Roubein and Sarah Owermohle
States must submit plans: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requiring states and jurisdictions to submit plans on how they’d administer and distribute a vaccine by Oct. 16. They’re facing a host of challenges, such as how to store a vaccine that’s expected to need to be kept in specialized freezers.
Information in the interim guidance to states — such as any vaccine’s efficacy in pregnant people and children — will be updated as it becomes available, CDC Director Robert Redfield told reporters on a call.
Administering the vaccine: Doses may be available as early as November to limited groups, but that supply may increase substantially in 2021. Final decisions on who will be first in line to get the shots will be made later.
Federal officials laid out an optimistic timeline for vaccines to be ready during the fourth quarter of 2020 in a “constrained” phase, when they will be provided to high-priority populations like health care workers. “As supply equals demand and exceeds demand into 2021, our distribution principles will change,” Paul Mango, HHS’ deputy chief of staff for policy, said on the call.
Most vaccines now in development would require two doses, separated by either 21 or 28 days — a massive logistical hurdle for local health departments, pharmacies and providers should one of those shots win FDA authorization or approval.
“We have to be able to tell the person that we vaccinated when it’s time to come back in for the second shot … we have to be able to alert them,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the deputy chief of supply, production and distribution for Operation Warp Speed, the interagency effort to accelerate development of coronavirus treatments and vaccines.
“And we also need to make sure that they have the right vaccine injected on the second dose. These vaccines are not interchangeable.”