Both Pfizer and Moderna have applied for FDA emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccines. Each product has been comprehensively and carefully tested in tens of thousands of clinical trial volunteers, and early data suggests that they are both effective (the vaccines are approximately 95 percent effective at protecting people from developing COVID-19) and safe (neither showing serious side effects). Experts expect that both vaccines will be granted FDA approval for widespread use.
FDA approvals will spark a series of mass vaccination campaigns that will undoubtedly endure throughout 2021, a pivotal step in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing associated morbidity and mortality. Officials in the state of North Carolina have developed a detailed plan for distribution and administration of both vaccines with limited initial supply being offered in phases to higher risk populations.
Here’s what I know now:
• Even if the plan proceeds as anticipated, initial vaccine availability will be limited for the first several months, requiring doses to be rationed, starting with the most vulnerable.
Phase 1: Healthcare workers and first responders who are at high risk due to their occupations; long term care facility residents and staff; individuals of certain higher risk cohorts who have two or more chronic conditions.
Phase 2: Individuals who are over the age of 65, teachers, school staff, any adults with one high risk chronic health condition, and anyone in those particular higher risk cohorts identified in phase one that does not have a chronic condition (including migrant workers and incarcerated individuals).
Phase 3: Children in grades K-12, college students, and essential workers who do not have a chronic condition but are at higher risk due to their occupations.
Phase 4: The remaining population, including adults with no underlying health conditions.
• Assuming that FDA emergency use authorization is granted for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine following today’s review, 85,000 doses of this vaccine should be received in North Carolina by next week. All doses will be distributed to hospitals (which each hospital allotted a maximum 2,925 doses) exclusively for the purpose of vaccinating hospital personnel at high risk of viral exposure-those who are caring for COVID-19 patients and those who clean the spaces occupied by COVID-19 patients.
• The following week, we anticipate FDA authorization of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Assuming that this holds, 175,000 doses are expected to be delivered to North Carolina throughout the week of the 21st. These vaccines will be prioritized for hospitals, long term care facility residents and staff (through federally-required partnership with Walgreens or CVS for administration), and county health departments. The state anticipates that approximately 500,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine will be available for these Phase 1 prioritized recipients before the end of the year.
• It is unclear at this time whether Deerfield’s Independent Living residents, given the congregate living nature of our campus, will be included in Phase 1 or in Phase 2 of vaccine prioritization. In either case, hopeful projections suggest that North Carolinian adults over the age 65 may have the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccination as soon as January. Deerfield is working closely with our pharmacy partners to ensure that all of Deerfield’s residents and staff have ready, convenient access to vaccination as soon as possible.
Taryn Tindall, RN, on behalf of the Deerfield Leadership Team