(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Washingtonians are still months away from seeing a coronavirus vaccine, but the state is already making plans in preparation.
State Secretary of Health John Wiesman said the Department of Health is developing the infrastructure for getting the vaccine out to people quickly.
“We want to be ready whenever a vaccine is available, and a vaccine that has undergone the trials for safety and efficacious-ness,” Wiesman said. “That [infrastructure] will be ready when the time comes.”
The Trump administration has asked states to be ready for a vaccine by November, but Wiesman cautioned that a vaccine must jump through many hoops first, such as “fully pass[ing] through the Phase 3 [clinical] trials.”
“We, certainly, at the state want to ensure that the drug is safe and effective … and we want to make sure that the federal government takes all the steps they need to ensure that any release of this vaccine is not driven by politics,” he said.
Even when the inoculation is available, however, most people will not be able to get it right away.
“What we do know is, whatever vaccine does come, at first, it’s going to be in small quantities and supplies, and that’s indeed what some of the strategies lay out, that we should expect a small number of vaccines — maybe in the ten of the millions for the entire United States,” Wiesman said.
The entire U.S. population is about 330 million — so it will be some time before everyone is able to get their COVID-19 shot and life is able to resume as normal. Wiesman said that recipients will have to be prioritized, which is “typical with new vaccines.”
“It would likely be for folks who are at highest risk for COVID-19,” Wiesman said. “So that might be health care workers, other essential workers, first responders, and folks who are at high risk for severe complications or severe outcomes, including death — folks, for example, who are older.”
The good news, he said, is that more doses will follow.
“Whenever a vaccine first comes, whether that’s sometime toward the end of this year or the beginning of next year, we’ll have a small number of vaccines — and then there will be more vaccine that comes and the supply will start getting larger,” he said.