Healthcare workers, first responders will be among the first to get COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available
In recent days, two different pharmaceutical companies have announced promising preliminary results regarding COVID-19 vaccines with one drug touting a 90 percent effective rate and another touting a 94.5 percent effective rate.
After one or both of these vaccines get approved for human use, who will get the vaccine first and who will administer it?
“The vaccine will be available in phases and might be in very limited supply for a while. In the first phase, the people able to get vaccinated will be healthcare workers and first responders,” Whitley County Health Department Public Health Director Marcy Rein said in an e-mail Monday morning.
According to an initial draft of the Kentucky vaccination plan, healthcare workers and first responders will be vaccinated first because they will likely be exposed to and treat people with COVID-19.
Rein noted during Monday evenings Whitley County Board of Health meeting that it appears initially the county won’t get enough vaccine to vaccinate all of the healthcare workers and first responders so it will have to prioritize, who gets vaccinated first among that group.
The next people prioritized to get vaccinated after more vaccine becomes available are essential workers and those who work in high contact jobs, such as social service support workers, grocery workers, and transportation workers, according to the state vaccination plan.
Then people deemed at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 will have the chance to get vaccinated, such as those with underlying medical conditions and people ages 65 years old and older, according to the plan.
“As more vaccine becomes available, more populations of people will be able to get the vaccine,” Rein said in the e-mail. “A person in a priority population like first responders will probably hear from their employer when a vaccine is ready and how to get it. We will coordinate with community providers and employers on how to do it – probably through closed points of distribution. In other words, shot clinics that are not open to the public but are targeting specific types of people.”
Who will administer it?
Rein agrees that is a good question, and the short answer is that any healthcare provider, pharmacy, etc., can sign up to administer the vaccine when it becomes available.
Basically, they have to agree to follow the state’s guidance and upload information to the state’s vaccine database and health information exchange.
“Once we have enough vaccine to give it to anyone who wants it, no matter what population they are part of, there will be information available to tell people where to get it. It will be similar to where you can get a flu shot – your healthcare provider, a pharmacy, a drive-through clinic, etc.,” Rein said in the e-mail.
The health department is also preparing to give vaccinations to large groups of people.
Rein told the board of health Monday that the health department did a test run for a drive-thru vaccination effort with a drive-thru flu vaccination clinic that taught them a few lessons, such as needing more reflective vests, better signage and more people for traffic control
It was determined that a nurse could probably vaccinate up to 60 people per hour if that was all that they were doing, and they didn’t have to do any paperwork.