Submitted by the Washington State Department of Health
The Washington State Department of Health continues to make progress with its COVID-19 vaccine distribution planning efforts.
Update on vaccine candidates and supply
The department is hopeful that a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 will be available before the end of the year. While there was encouraging news recently from one manufacturer (Pfizer), it’s important to remember no vaccine is approved for use in the United States yet. Many vaccine candidates are in clinical trials and must still apply for an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. The department of health won’t know many details about a vaccine until that happens.
Estimates on the number of doses the department of health will receive have varied. The department does not have new information from the federal government about our allocation or timing for receiving vaccines. We also do not have information on how often we will continue to get additional doses.
Regardless of when the vaccine comes out, we need people to keep wearing masks and social distancing. There won’t be a lot of supply of vaccine at first, and also, we don’t know how long protection from the vaccine will last. There will be a day when we can move away from those other precautions, but we aren’t there yet.
We know that safety is a big priority for the people of Washington. The department has spent the last month engaging with many communities and groups impacted by COVID-19, and we heard some questions and concerns about the safety of the vaccine.
We want to give people the highest confidence that they are getting clear and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are held to very high safety standards, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be no different. In addition to the safety studies done before its emergency use authorization, any approved vaccine will continue to be monitored for safety concerns.
All existing safety monitoring systems will be in place for COVID-19 vaccines.
We don’t know yet how long the vaccine protection will last. In addition to safety, that’s another reason the federal government will continue to monitor the vaccine after it’s released – so we know how long it is effective.
State and national plans
While we wait for a vaccine to be ready, we continue to identify and enroll provider sites and solidify plans for how to provide vaccines to groups who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
To see Washington’s interim plan that addresses who might get the vaccine in what phases, go to www.covidvaccineWA.org.