State Officials: Utah Will Be Ready To Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine Once Available
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states this week to get ready to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine by November 1, and state leaders said they are confident Utah will be ready when the vaccine arrives.
News that a vaccine will be available in November was met with a lot of optimism this week, but also plenty of skepticism about whether a vaccine can be ready that soon, and whether there are political motives behind the announcement.
If a vaccine gets here that soon, the people in charge of the process said Utah is ready.
“Our folks will, in fact, do what we can to be prepared,” Gov. Gary Herbert said.
He hopes the state is not being overly optimistic, but he said the state is ready for vaccine distribution.
The director of the CDC told states to get ready to distribute vaccines to specific places, including state and local health departments and hospitals.
Documents encourage health officials to work out now which groups to prioritize for a vaccine, identify providers who will administer vaccine, and take other steps to prepare.
In his weekly briefing, Herbert said he has also met with the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“He indicated that the process they’ve done is going to streamline it. So what would normally take two or three years, they’re going to be doing in one year. He emphasized too that we’re not doing anything that is going to make it unsafe,” Herbert said.
During the same briefing, the state epidemiologist said health officials learned valuable lessons from the distribution of the vaccine for the H1N1 virus, also known as the swine flu, which swept through the United States 11 years ago.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while with stakeholders throughout the state to ensure accessibility,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.
Richard Lakin, the immunization program manager for the Utah Department of Health, told KSL-TV the three keys to a successful immunization program are strong guidance from the CDC, clear priorities on who gets the vaccine first and getting the vaccine out as efficiently as possible.
LIVE: Gov. Gary Herbert and state medical leaders are providing an update on COVID-19 in Utah
Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, September 3, 2020
He said they could roll out the program very quickly if they had to because of their experience with the swine flu vaccine.
The state also immunizes 500,000 Utah school kids every year.
“So, the distribution chain will likely be a mix of public health, healthcare systems and pharmacies working together to make sure that the most amount of people have access to the vaccine when it does become available,” Dunn said.
Public health leaders across the country have raised concerns that the rush on the vaccine has been politicized to get something ready before the election in November.
Herbert said that’s what happens during election season, and he didn’t have any other insights on political motivations.
“We want to get it done as quick as we can. Whether that’s fortuitous for the elections in November for the current administration, I guess, that’s anybody’s opinion,” said Herbert.
The immunization program manager said the amount of vaccine Utah receives will also drive the process. He said it is likely our state will receive small amounts of the vaccine when it first arrives.
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