December 03, 2020
Kansas City, Kan. — Vaccines are coming.
After many months navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s encouraging to know vaccines are on their way. Several pharmaceutical manufacturers have produced vaccines and are pursuing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
While this progress inspires hope, it also introduces questions. When will hospitals receive vaccines? How many? Who will get them first? Are there side effects? Information is coming together but continues to develop and evolve.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (APIC) – on which the health system’s own obstetrics and gynecology specialist Kevin Ault, MD, is a volunteer member – has met numerous times to discuss and plan vaccine distribution.
Early December brought the decision to focus first on vaccinating essential healthcare workers and residents of nursing facilities. Healthcare workers must be protected in order to continue providing care – not only to COVID-19-positive patients, but to patients with any health condition. Seniors living in nursing homes are deemed a high-risk and vulnerable population in need of early focus. Each vaccine recipient will require 2 doses.
The CDC’s APIC is shaping the national distribution plan. Once it sets these guidelines and distributes vaccines state by state, state organizations will step up to guide local distribution. Here in Kansas, we work closely with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Vaccines will become available under what’s called emergency use authorization (EUA), special FDA permission to administer drugs in emergency scenarios to promote public health even while late-stage research continues. As further data is collected, more will be learned about potential side effects. Tens of thousands of people are currently enrolled in clinical trials to promote this discovery. EUA approval is only given for drugs shown to be safe and effective.
We will share further information as we have it, especially as the vaccine becomes more widely available to the general public.