Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup Approves Second COVID-19 Vaccine
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First deliveries of the Moderna vaccine expected the week of December 28 in Spokane County
SPOKANE, Wash. – Governor Jay Inslee announced today that the Western States' Scientific Safety Review Workgroup unanimously approved use of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine and expects the federal government to start shipping the first doses to Washington State this week. Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) confirmed it expects to receive 16,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the week of December 28.
The Western States Workgroup, made up of vaccine experts from Washington, California, Oregon and Nevada, conducted an independent review of the Moderna vaccine data, following its emergency authorization from the FDA and CDC, to ensure it meets safety and efficacy criteria. Last week they conducted a similar review of the Pfizer vaccine, which is already being administered in Spokane County.
SRHD confirmed that 3,900 of the first Pfizer vaccines were distributed to health care providers in Spokane County last week and expects an additional 3,900 Pfizer vaccines this week, and 3,900 doses the following week.
Dr. Francisco Velazquez, interim health officer for Spokane County, explained, “The release of the second vaccine is a significant milestone in the management of the pandemic. We have already begun immunizing local providers and, with this additional vaccine, we will be able to expand to more providers and other high-risk groups. Additionally, the Moderna vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperature (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit), which will allow for broader geographical distribution.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established phases of distribution, starting with individuals who are most at risk. The individuals that will be vaccinated in the first phase are those who work in health care and long-term care, have direct contact with those who are positive with COVID-19 and are unable to avoid such contact, as well as those who are most at risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19. If you do not fall into this category, you will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in a later phase. Preliminary phases are outlined in the DOH COVID-19 Vaccination Plan , and may change as public health officials learn more during the first phase.
At this time, SRHD officials say the vaccine will be allocated to 23 enrolled providers in Spokane County to vaccinate frontline health care workers and others in the community who meet the Phase 1A criteria. Five of these sites will provide vaccines to Phase 1A healthcare workers who are not affiliated with large healthcare organizations in the county. In addition, SRHD will vaccinate Phase 1A employees who are performing testing in congregate living settings and other response efforts throughout the county.
Clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, and health care offices are encouraged to enroll. This document gives additional information concerning requirements for applying providers: Preparing to Enroll in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program.
Long-term care facilities can also enroll in a program that will provide COVID-19 vaccine for their residents and staff made available through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents in long-term care facilities. These facilities are strongly urged to register for this program by sending an email to COVID.Vaccine@doh.wa.gov. Participation is critical to ensure their vulnerable residents are among the first to receive a vaccine when it becomes available to them.
SRHD is working closely with the Washington Department of Health in following their state specific interim playbook as well as the CDC playbook for vaccine distribution. The playbooks outline each step in the plan for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to the public. These plans guide local and federal planning efforts. Continuous meetings are held at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure information is shared with those critical to the planning efforts. The information about the vaccines and their availability is constantly being updated.
SRHD has created both a COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and an Advisory Group. Their purpose is to plan for future phases of the rollout and to work with community partners, social service agencies and health care systems to ensure a coordinated effort. In addition, SRHD has experience in successfully managed mass vaccination efforts during past epidemics such as H1N1, Mumps, Measles and Hepatitis A in a wide range of situations and scenarios. Those practices are currently being reviewed and revised to best meet the distribution needs of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine has similar performance characteristics as the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, in areas such as efficacy,” said Velazquez. “It is important to remember that vaccines are a critical tool for controlling this virus, and we encourage people to get vaccinated when their opportunity arises. In addition, maintaining our diligence in complying with public health guidance, by wearing face coverings, social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing regularly, is critical until most people are vaccinated,” said Velazquez.