For states, distribution of COVID-19 vaccine poses many obstacles: NPR


A nurse prepares to inject Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to staff at a nursing home in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Liam McBurney / PA Images via Getty Images


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Liam McBurney / PA Images via Getty Images


A nurse prepares to inject Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to staff at a nursing home in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Liam McBurney / PA Images via Getty Images

The first COVID-19 vaccine in the United States could be cleared for emergency use within days. But for state health officials, any excitement about a potential breakthrough is tempered by a damning logistical test: the distribution of a vaccine to millions of Americans.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said there are no shortage of challenges for those responsible for planning the rollout of immunization in their state.

“The big question for program managers is, exactly how much vaccine will I get?” Hannan said in an interview Wednesday with NPR All things Considered host Ari Shapiro.

She said the answer to that question is clearer regarding the Pfizer vaccine – the first coronavirus vaccine for which the Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant emergency use authorization as early as this week.

Together with its German partner BioNTech, Pfizer has produced a vaccine that has been shown to be 95% effective in clinical trials. But the quantity is limited. The Trump administration has purchased 100 million initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine, a stockpile that will go first to frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Meanwhile, immunization officials across the country are receiving fluctuating estimates on the supply of another promising new vaccine from biotech company Moderna, Hannan said, hampering their ability to plan.

“They have to take into account what their allowance is and what their allowance will be, because in order for them to be able to switch to their long-term care facility program, they must have enough allowance in one or the other. mark, “she said. “It’s kind of a game of chess, making six moves in advance to get to where they need to be.”

Funding is yet another hurdle for states in implementing their immunization campaigns. As Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr Rachel Levine told NPR last week, the federal government has allocated $ 340 million to states for vaccine distribution and administration, while it has spent billions in the production of a new COVID-19 vaccine.

Hannan said that this amount is simply not enough to adequately fund the distribution of a vaccine.

“State and local governments could simply be bankrupted by deploying this,” she said.

This story was produced and edited for radio by Sam Gringlas, Justine Kenin and Carol Klinger.


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