COVID-19 vaccine distribution dependent on multiple factors

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The planned timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine distribution for everyone in Kentucky is about a year, once it comes around.

For many people, that sounds like a long wait assuming a vaccine emerges by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.

UofL Health’s Dr. Hugh Shoff said while a year may seem like a long time to get everyone vaccinated, getting all those high-risk folks off the list first will put Kentucky in a much better position to fight the virus. Shoff said there are so many unknows about a coronavirus vaccine that’s still under development, like when will it become available and how much will the state get?

Kentucky health officials on Friday released a draft plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. It put those people most likely to get exposed at the top of the list.

“The initial phase looks at our first responders and our front-line healthcare workers," Shoff said.

Next in line?

“Patients in our population that are elderly with significant high risk,” he said. “If they get COVID, they would get very sick.”

Shoff said by targeting those populations in every county, it would make it much easier to deal with the pandemic overall. From there, food and transportation workers to those over age 60, high-risk children, pregnant women and then the general population.

The questions keep coming: Will supplies be limited at first? What about cold storage for the vaccine? The COVID-19 vaccines being developed right now require a freezer with colder temperatures than necessary for most vaccines, and it is equipment many health departments just don’t have.

“Every state will have its own issues with logistics, what it looks like for the patient population,” Shoff said. "I know Kentucky is working within what we can do and with our state, but every state is going to have to address this as it becomes available.”

Once a vaccine is approved, Shoff said, people should feel confident taking it as it will only be released when it’s safe for the general public.

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