California has prepared an unprecedented vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 virus, according to a plan submitted to federal authorities Friday, a major step along Golden State’s roadmap to protect 40 million people from the deadly disease.
This plan, although not yet published, specifies who first receives the vaccine, where it is distributed, and how it is stored and transported.
“This is a huge task for a state the size of California,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, whose members include state health officials. “You need to spread the vaccine across as many agencies and healthcare provider groups to make it as accessible as possible.
California has been awarded approx. $ 28 million for COVID-19 vaccine planning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s 70 cents per. Resident. The state is currently assessing what else it needs to launch its historic campaign.
A vaccine is not expected to be approved until the end of November or December – and there will not be sufficient amounts for release to the public until at least mid-2021. At least initially, vaccines will be approved during an emergency Use permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rather than traditional approval.
But the nation cannot wait for a finished product to invent an effective plan for a vaccine that may require zero below zero and a complex distribution system.
In preparation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave states a Friday deadline to describe their customized local efforts. The plans – which address 15 issues – vary from place to place, and the CDC needs time to organize its oversight. Virginia and Colorado handed in their plans earlier in the week.
“It’s a lot of work to find out,” said UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford. “Who gets it? Where are they going to get it? How many people can you vaccinate a day? How should we save it? How should we transport it? ”
“How should we keep track of the people who are being vaccinated? What about the supply chain – not just the vaccine, but the needles, syringes, cotton swabs and all the other pieces? And we need a monitoring system to keep track of unwanted incidents. ”
Once a vaccine is available, it will be shipped by the manufacturer to distribution centers for McKesson Corporation, a partner of the CDC for other vaccine deployments. McKesson has two distribution centers – one in Sacramento and one in Memphis – and will ship the product to state health departments for distribution.
It is expected that the size of each state’s allocation will be based on its population.
“State and local governments will have to work with their communities and local businesses to convert unconventional spaces like workplaces, churches, schools and grocery stores into vaccination sites,” according to John Auerbach of the Trust for America’s Health.
Bay Area counties say they have participated in discussions on the overall coordination of timing and logistics.
“We are also discussing local distribution protocols with our health partners, hospitals and clinics – and plan to convene a community input group to ensure that the process follows our mission to achieve health equality for all residents,” said Neetu Balram of Alameda County Public Health Department.
Contra Costa County has also been involved in state plans, though “we do not yet know when a vaccine may be available or how many doses will be given to Contra Costa County during the initial rollout,” spokesman Will Harper said. Counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco did not respond to questions Friday afternoon about their engagement.
All of California’s health care providers – from Kaiser and Sutter to large university hospitals and small public clinics – must be involved in the planning, Rutherford said. Family practitioners could administer the vaccine together with internists, emergency department physicians, ob-gyns, and other specialists.
The advancement vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer, may require a lot of special refrigerators that are only available at academic research centers. This vaccine can not be stored in the refrigeration systems found in the typical doctor’s office. Instead, it requires special ultra-low temperature freezers that can store medicine at minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit. It also requires a booster shot, which further complicates the rollout.
As supplies will be limited, the plan will have several phases. In Phase 1, the vaccine will go to high-priority populations at high risk of exposure or death, such as healthcare professionals, first responders, and the elderly in nursing homes. As supplies become more abundant, it becomes more widely distributed.
The state already has a robust and effective structure for immunizing humans, called The Vaccines for Children program, Rutherford said. The program has registered more than 4,000 public and private provider sites since its inception in 1995 and protects children from birth to 18 years of age free of charge.
The computer system in the new program could be based on the expanded framework for this program, he said.
“It’s a very huge planning task,” Hannan said. “Different states carry out 50 different training programs and 50 different announcements as to why the vaccine is critical.”
“States have a plan on the books, but every situation is different,” she said. “You can not take an old plan off the shelf. You need to engage with stakeholders. ”