Health experts weigh in after CDC calls on states to prepare for vaccine distribution

As the final stage of vaccine trials are happening across the country, health officials are working on a plan for how to give it out once it’s approved.

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control confirms that a memo went out to all governors explaining how federal health officials are preparing for widespread distribution of the COVID 19 vaccine in the fall and distribution centers should be operational by November 1.  

“I would hope that the federal government would kind of take the lead on that. I mean, to throw it out to all the states and then have us have to do it when it’s their vaccine that they’re producing…hopefully, they have a plan to do it,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis when asked about memo Wednesday.

The feds are asking states to help -- for now, it’s with permitting.

The letter says: “This vaccine distribution is expected to be a public health effort of significant scale, potentially involving hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to be distributed across the U.S."

“There’s a lot of information coming out right now and there’s a lot being asked of state and local health departments to pull together in a short period time,” said Julie Swann, a department head within the college of engineering at NC State.

She worked as an advisor with the CDC during the H1N1 response.

“If we have any vaccine in October or November, it’s going to be in very small quantities,” Swann said.

She says those initial doses will likely go to healthcare workers and people in nursing homes. Once the vaccine becomes more widely available, Swann says we can look to what happened during the swine flu outbreak for an idea of how it will be distributed.

“Some vaccine was shipped to local health departments who ran mass vaccination clinics, some was sent directly to schools who could vaccinate children at school with the permission of their parents,” Swann said.

Local health officials say all of this is on their radar. As that fall date rapidly approaches.

“We are making sure that firefighters, paramedics, and others are trained to be able to give vaccinations,” said Dr. Todd Husty, the Seminole County medical director.

All of this is just scratching the surface when it comes to planning for the vaccine. Officials will also have to consider that the vaccine will need to be kept cold and people will likely need to doses.