Covid-19

As soon as mid-December, healthcare providers and the chron­ically ill in Alabama could begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine. U.S. Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, recently spoke with State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris about the rapid progress which will make it possible for an initial supply of vaccine products to be available in the state as soon as a vaccine is authorized.

Large amounts of vaccine from different companies have already been produced and stored while clinical trials are ongoing. Extraordinary precautions are taken to protect the stockpiles of vaccine, including armed guards. The federal government will allocate initial vac­cine supplies to states and jurisdic­tions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to take about two weeks to review vaccine products. As soon as the FDA makes its review, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will study the data and make recommendations. After the FDA confirms a COVID-19 vac­cine is safe and effective and when an Emergency Use Authorization is received, vaccine kits will be shipped to several locations statewide and pre-positioned to provide immuni­zations in Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is following its three-phased COVID-19 vaccine plan. ADPH continues to enroll community partners in its statewide population-based immunization electronic registry system, ImmPRINT (Immunization Patient Registry with Integrated Technology) to provide COVID-19 vaccine. These include private sec­tor partners including medical facil­ities and health care providers who will administer the vaccine. Persons identified to receive vaccine first include healthcare workers and first responders.

All Americans can receive their initial vaccine treatment without any charge, including people with no health insurance. Gen. Perna and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris emphasized that the goal is for all people to have access to the free vaccine regardless of their financial status or location. Distribution of the vaccine will be made equitably to those most at risk, the chronically ill and seniors in all 67 Alabama counties.

A new proprietary software pro­gram called “Tiberius” links data­bases that track every COVID-19 vaccine dose from manufacture to patient inoculation. Most vaccine candidates require patients to receive two doses at a certain time interval apart. The stated goal of Operation Warp Speed is to pro­duce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vac­cines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (collectively known as countermea­sures).

Alabama COVID-19 vaccine information is available by going to alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/vaccine.html

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