Q: Vaccines for COVID-19 seem to be getting closer to the necessary approvals so they can be distributed to states and then given to residents. Is Idaho ready to receive the vaccine shipments?
A: Idaho will be ready when the first shipments of the vaccine are sent. We don’t know yet exactly when that will happen, but we anticipate it could be before the end of the year. We have been enrolling healthcare providers, so they can administer the vaccine, and we have purchased seven ultra-cold freezers – one for each of Idaho’s seven local public health districts, to help store vaccines that need to be kept very cold prior to being used throughout the state.
The vaccine will be shipped after Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but will not be administered in the state until a recommendation on its use is issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). It is anticipated that the ACIP recommendation will occur very quickly after the FDA approval.
The manufacturer of one of the vaccines (Pfizer and BioNTech) requested an EUA on Nov. 20. The FDA’s Vaccine’s & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) is scheduled to review vaccine data from the manufacturer on Dec. 10 and make a recommendation to the FDA. If the FDA issues an EUA, then ACIP will hold an emergency meeting to consider recommendations for use of the vaccine. Immediately after ACIP’s recommendation, vaccine would be shipped to other vaccine providers from the vaccine manufacturer.
Q: Who will get the vaccine first?
A: The vaccine will likely be available first to healthcare providers, essential workers, adults 65 years and older, and adults under the age of 65 with high-risk conditions. The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (CVAC) is being requested to help in prioritizing essential workers and groups at high-risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, when doses are still limited in supply. The next CVAC meeting is Dec. 4.
Q: How do we know if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?
A: Idaho is committed to providing COVID-19 vaccine that is safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized or approved only if they are shown to be safe and effective in reducing your chances of getting COVID-19.
Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines will be monitored for safety even after they are authorized and recommended for use.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and how they are monitored for safety and effectiveness: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html
To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho, please choose to:
- Wear face coverings
- Keep at least six feet between you and others
- Stay home if you are sick
- Wash your hands often
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly
Stay up-to-date with the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19 at the following websites:
DHW also posts lots of information, including daily updates on the numbers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Sarah Leeds is the manager of the Idaho Immunization Program in the Division of Public Health. She is leading Idaho’s planning efforts for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.