Seminole County preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Three vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are now waiting to be approved by the Food and Drug Administation (FDA). Each of them is showing to be 90-percent effective or higher.

Pfizer's vaccine will go before the FDA on December 10 and it needs to be kept cold along with Moderna's. Local officials are putting together ways to store them right now.

A vaccine isn’t finalized yet, but Seminole County is working with local hospitals, emergency management, and the department of health to organize how a vaccine will be distributed to nearly half a million residents.

In preparation for receiving the vaccine, the county has purchased four ultra-cold freezers for storage. Some vaccines must be kept extremely cold.

For instance, Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

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“That’s where they’re going to be stored,” said Alan Harris, Seminole County Emergency Management Director. “Then they’ll be placed into dry ice containers and those will go out to sites to distribute the vaccine to the public.”

Harris, who is an organizer of the distribution plans, said the county will set up closed PODS, or points of dispensing, for certain people at first. Open PODS will come later.

“Priority groups include health care workers, emergency medical services, first responders, then persons with special needs; so individuals that are elderly, people that have immune-compromised positions,” he said. “Open PODS would be open for the general public. That would look something like our testing does right now.”

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The county has also thought of ways to deliver the vaccine to transportation-disadvantaged communities by creating a trailer that could distribute a vaccine in neighborhoods.

Though a vaccine has not been finalized, companies are getting close. Harris believes some healthcare workers may be able to get their shots by the end of 2020.

“What we’ve been hearing is late spring, early summer for more open points of dispensing.”