The development of a vaccine for COVID-19 is ongoing and there is hope that clinical trials will show it is effective and can be distributed to everyone. However, before the vaccine can be administered to consumers, a few things have to be in place to ensure that the vaccine remains safe and those receiving it get a shot that will be effective. This means that safety precautions have to be factored into the mass distribution plan. In this article, we will take a much closer look at four key components that will play a critical role in the roll-out of the vaccine.
According to ABC News, there is not an authorized or approved vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease yet in the United States. But work has been underway since the pandemic started to create such a vaccine. The federal government has implemented a program called Operation Warp Speed to both create and distribute a vaccine as soon as possible. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) is not involved in the vaccine development but has been in a working partnership with health officials to plan out how the vaccine will be distributed once it becomes available.
Currently, there is a possibility that there will be more than one COVID-19 vaccine ready within the next year, and here are four things you need to know about that.
There May Be A Limited Supply of Vaccines
As the development of more than one vaccine continues, there is a very good possibility that some of them will be available before others. This also means that there is a likelihood that the supply will be limited. Although the main objective of the USCDC is for everyone to have easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine, quantities when it first becomes available will not permit this. However, there is a plan. There is an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in place tasked with the job of creating a distribution plan. The guidelines set out to assist with the development of this plan include the need for a method of distribution that is fair, ethical, and transparent. This means some groups of people will likely be bumped to the front of the line while others will have to wait their turn. The important thing to keep in mind here is that as the vaccines are developed, the supply is expected to increase continually in the weeks following the initial release.
Also, it is important to note that the US federal government has employed more than one manufacturer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The advantage of this is timing. As stated above, there may be vaccines that are available before others and this should aid in the roll-out plans. By having a staggered release of vaccines, it can help to control distribution and will help reduce the rush of people seeking the vaccine when it is first released.
Children Will Not Receive The Vaccine
Well, not in the beginning will children receive the vaccine. Clinical trials currently underway for various COVID-19 vaccines have been conducted with the only participants being non-pregnant adults. As the development of vaccines continues, the groups being used to test them will also evolve. This may become a critical issue in the months to come if specific groups are dropped from eligibility for receiving the shots.
Expect to see the high-risk demographics first in line to receive the vaccine once one becomes available. This will most likely include the elderly and those who already have chronic conditions that can be seriously compromised should they contract COVID-19. Children do not seem to be suffering from the virus in numbers as high as other demographics and therefore would be one of the last groups to qualify for the vaccine. That is if the distribution plan follows a process that is built upon the amount of risk to each demographic group.
Cost Will Not Restrict Access To The Vaccine
In the United States, vaccines that are purchased with American tax dollars will be provided to US residents at no cost. But there is a disclaimer included where vaccine providers may choose to charge a nominal fee for administering the vaccine. This ensures that anyone in the country can receive the vaccine regardless of financial status. Plus, for US residents who have health insurance coverage, the fee should be covered and for non-insured residents, their fees should also be covered through relief programs in place for such an expense.
Cold Chains Will Be Critical
Vaccines are sensitive assets. They are only effective if they are kept in proper storage as part of the distribution phase. This amounts to temperature control from the entire cold chain that starts at the lab where the vaccines are created, through shipping routes to various destinations, and finally to individuals. Vaccines that are not kept in the correct temperature conditions spoil and cannot be used which negatively impacts supply inventory and cost of distribution. This is why correct storage practices are required to make sure vaccines get to where they are needed and can still be used once they arrive. For cold chains that deal with sensitive materials, Dickson notes that proper temperature monitoring is crucial, as it is part of GxP (good practices) in any industry dealing with environmentally sensitive products.
The good news is that numerous labs are working continuously on developing a vaccine for the coronavirus. This could result in several vaccines becoming available at different times but with a great enough supply over time, to provide every American citizen with a shot. However, the final distribution plan is yet to be completed which may see some groups not able to access the vaccine at first. Eventually, there will be enough supply and everyone will get one at no cost. That is, provided that the cold chain remains intact as the sensitive materials travel from Point A to Point B. The bottom line is that progress is being made to combat the pandemic and we all just need to be patient as it will take time to get there.