How Massachusetts plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines

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Massachusetts has filed a tentative plan to distribute coronavirus vaccines, as required by the CDC. The state’s plan follows the CDC’s manual, featuring three delivery phases as more vaccines become available, both in volume and variety.

Pfizer, one of the top four companies to release vaccines, said yesterday it could submit data to the Food and Drug Administration for review by mid-November. FDA officials said it could take weeks to review this data and determine whether a vaccine is safe and effective. Pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, are producing massive amounts of their vaccine in anticipation of approval.

Massachusetts says it expects to receive between 20,000 and 60,000 doses of the vaccine in the first phase. Priority, as suggested by the CDC, would go to healthcare and other essential workers who treat patients with or may be exposed to COVID-19, as well as residents most at risk for severe cases of COVID-19. disease. This includes patients with lung diseases such as COPD and those who are 65 years of age or older.

The Baker administration says even 60,000 doses will not be enough to cover all priority groups, so hospitals and long-term care facilities will have to create their own lists of providers and patients who will be vaccinated first.

The state’s plan notes that all hospitals and nursing homes may not be equipped to manage and track vaccine distribution. Two of the first expected vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, require sub-zero shipping and storage. Both vaccines require two injections, one 21 days apart, the other 28 days apart. Massachusetts plans to use the National Guard to help qualified nursing facilities meet these vaccine distribution requirements.

In phase two, as more doses and varieties of vaccines become available, Massachusetts says it will rely on community health centers to immunize patients of color and those in low-income areas. who have experienced higher rates of COVID-19 than the state as a whole.

The Baker administration says it will work closely with pharmacies in phase two to increase vaccine distribution and may create emergency distribution sites to reach areas not covered by hospitals or community health centers. .

The state plans to track the distribution of coronavirus vaccines through the Massachusetts Immunization Information System. Its website says “MIIS is being rolled out statewide” and some doctors are wondering if it will be ready for this complex and large-scale vaccination effort. The CARES Act provides funds to expand follow-up programs, but national leaders are not saying enough.

In phase three, when there are enough drugs to immunize everyone in the state, the Baker administration says it plans to work to ensure everyone gets free vaccines as quickly as possible. The state said it will target areas with low vaccination rates and “develop culturally appropriate strategies to address them, including engaging trusted community leaders and influencers within identified communities.”

Polls show that between 35% and 51% of Americans either would not get a vaccine or are reluctant to get the vaccine. To address this fear and distrust, the Baker administration’s plan has a three-part communications strategy that includes messages created by an outside company, broadcast and social media ads, and outreach to black communities. , Latinx, and death rates from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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