COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan update from the Washington State Department of Health

For immediate release: December 3, 2020                   (20-233)

Media contact: Danielle Koenig, Center for Public Affairs

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan update from the Washington State Department of Health

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with our COVID-19 vaccine distribution planning efforts.

Timeline: Vaccine Authorizations and Approvals

Vaccine safety is of the utmost importance to our communities in Washington. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet December 10th to review the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) application submitted by Pfizer on November 20th. An EUA allows the FDA to make a product available during a declared state of emergency before it has a full license. If the EUA is approved, the vaccine will then be vetted by the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, as part of the Western States Pact.

The review by this workgroup will provide another layer of scrutiny and expert review to this process and should take about 1 to 2 days. This will be done while the vaccine is still being processed and shipped, so it should not cause any delay in making vaccine available to people in Washington.

First Vaccine Arrival

We are hopeful we will have a vaccine to begin administering by mid-December. The federal government has given us an estimate of 62,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for our initial allocation. They have also told us we should receive an estimated total of around 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December.  Regular weekly shipments should begin in January.

Allocation and Prioritization

We are working on finalizing our guidance around initial vaccine allocation and prioritization framework. This framework includes feedback from the communities, partners, sectors, and industries that are heavily impacted by COVID-19, and by the National Academies of Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus. We are also using guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

What we know for sure right now is that the first phase of vaccination, called 1a, will focus on workers in healthcare settings serving patients who either have confirmed or suspected COVID-19, along with staff and residents of long-term care facilities. We’ll know more about who will be vaccinated in later phases based on input from our community engagement and decisions made by ACIP. Getting vaccine to the people of Washington is a large, coordinated effort and the timeline for when all eligible people canreceive the vaccine is still a work in progress.

Provider Enrollment

Providers who have fully enrolled in the COVID-19 Vaccine Program by December 6 will be eligible to receive part of the first shipment. As of December 1, we had 116 providers fully enrolled, with many more applications partially completed or pending approval. Clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals are encouraged to enroll right away. Enroll at www.COVIDVaccineWA.org.

We will coordinate with CDC to ship vaccine directly to enrolled providers once vaccine is available. Providers will then be responsible for storing and administering the vaccine. We are meeting with enrolled and interested providers regularly to provide updates and technical assistance.

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