As soon as mid-December, healthcare providers and the chronically ill in Alabama could begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations free of charge, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced Monday.
In a statement, the department said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to take about two weeks to review vaccines, at which time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will study the data and make recommendations.
“After the FDA confirms a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and when an Emergency Use Authorization is received, vaccine kits will be shipped to several locations statewide and pre-positioned to provide immunizations in Alabama,” the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) statement reads.
According to ADPH’s three-phase vaccination plan, the first to receive vaccines include healthcare workers and first responders.
“ADPH continues to enroll community partners in its statewide population-based immunization electronic registry system, ImmPRINT (Immunization Patient Registry with Integrated Technology) to provide COVID-19 vaccine. These include private sector partners including medical facilities and health care providers who will administer the vaccine,” according to the department’s statement.
U.S. Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, recently talked with Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris about vaccine plans, according to the statement, and both emphasized that the goal is for “all people to have access to the free vaccine regardless of their financial status or location.”
“Distribution of the vaccine will be made equitably to those most at risk, the chronically ill and seniors in all 67 Alabama counties,” the statement reads.
The drug maker Moderna on Monday announced its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective at preventing coronavirus infection, welcome news after the drug giant Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine is more than 90 percent effective at prevention of infection.
While Pfizer’s vaccine requires ultra-cold storage at minus 70 degrees celsius, Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at regular refrigeration temperature for up to a month. Not all medical facilities have such ultra-cold storage capabilities, however, although larger medical institutions and research hospitals do.