One last hurdle in the Utah COVID vaccine distribution plan
EDITORIAL NOTE: This story is part of our continuing series, ‘The Vaccines: Hope on the Horizon.’ Each day, KSL will break down a different aspect of COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. Listen to Utah’s Morning News at 7:45 a.m. and to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News at 4:45 p.m. daily for the latest.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials say they’ve already purchased the first of their doses of a COVID-19 vaccine — and they know who’ll be first in line when they’re ready to distribute it. But at least one hurdle still stands in the way: FDA approval.
Encouraging results so far
But one key voice hasn’t yet weighed in: The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. According to Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko, that group meets with the Food and Drug Administration, which grants approval to vaccines, this week.
“They’ll review their data, provide any input that they have, and they will ultimately make a recommendation to the FDA,” Hudachko told KSL NewsRadio.
Technically, that means the Utah vaccine plan and that of every other state in the nation is a bit premature, as they require FDA approval before they can spring into action. If the FDA decides for any reason the vaccine doesn’t meet safety standards, all of those plans become moot.
“If the FDA doesn’t approve a vaccine, it can’t be distributed anywhere in the country,” Hudachko added.
The Utah COVID vaccine plan
While officials wait for that final approval, they also continue to move forward with the Utah COVID vaccine plan. Much work needs to be done to get ready before the vaccine becomes available.
Hudachko believes the main obstacle still facing health officials is how the public feels about the vaccine, though he says most Utahns feel it will be safe, according to health department data.
“Typically, between 71 and 72% of the population has indicated that they’re either somewhat likely or very likely to receive the vaccine once it comes out,” he said.
Frontline workers, such as doctors and nurses at hospitals across the state, would receive the vaccine first in Utah, Hudachko said. But one group is currently unaccounted for in the Utah vaccine plan: children. Doctors say they don’t yet have as much study data on the effect of the vaccine on children as they do on adults.
Researchers continue to seek volunteers for vaccine studies in younger age groups.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
- Obtain a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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