ADPH: Healthcare providers, ‘chronically ill’ in Alabama could get COVID-19 vaccine in ‘mid-December’
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced Monday that healthcare workers and the chronically ill in Alabama could begin receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in the middle of December.
A release from the agency said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and U.S. Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, spoke recently about the initial supply of vaccine products.
Operation Warp Speed is the catchall title for the federal government’s efforts to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.
News of the distribution plans for Alabama comes on the same day the biotechnology company Moderna released early data showing their vaccine candidate to be 94.5% effective, a rate thrilling to the scientific community.
“Large amounts of vaccine from different companies have already been produced and stored while clinical trials are ongoing,” the department explained, adding, “The federal government will allocate initial vaccine supplies to states and jurisdictions.”
The department, in its announcement, said that “the chronically ill and seniors,” would be the first to receive the vaccine, and later identified “healthcare workers and first responders” as candidates for the first doses, as well.
Those with pre-existing conditions, another term for the chronically ill, and those over 60 have proven to be at the highest risk of death due to COVID-19.
Moderna’s vaccine, which is similar in makeup to the one being produced by Pfizer, is taken in two doses about three weeks apart.
Pfizer and Moderna are both expected to submit results from the final phase of their clinical trials to the FDA later this month. At that point, the FDA is expected to take around two weeks to review the results.
If the agency determines from the data that the vaccines are safe, it will issue an Emergency Use Authorization and the already-manufactured stockpiles of each vaccine will begin rolling out to states.
As noted by the New York Times on Monday, a concern for many is that “both vaccines must be stored and transported at low temperatures — minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit for Moderna, and minus 94 Fahrenheit for Pfizer.”
The ADPH said Monday it had already identified “several locations statewide” that are “pre-positioned to provide immunizations in Alabama.” When and if the vaccine ships, it will go to these locations, per the department’s announcement.
Though mostly technical document, the full plan for distributing a coronavirus vaccine in Alabama can be read online here.
ADPH also reiterated on Monday what Harris has said in previous briefings: a coronavirus vaccine will eventually be available for free to all Alabamians, regardless of their health insurance status.