Ky. health commissioner ‘confident’ COVID-19 vaccine is likely by year’s end

Dr. Steven Stack told WAVE 3 News a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be rolled out in a phased approach, starting with health care professionals.
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 7:39 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky’s public health commissioner believes a vaccine is on the way.

“I don’t think it’ll happen in November," Dr. Steven Stack said. "There’s just certain steps that still have to occur. But December, January I’m pretty confident there will at least be one, if not more, vaccines available and I’m very confident by the time we get to the Spring and the early Summer there will be multiple vaccines.”

Stack told WAVE 3 News six vaccines are close to completion, but two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, appear nearly ready to present their vaccines to the Food and Drug Administration for approval.

Once approved, Stack said the drug could be distributed to the states within a week.

“Kentucky has to be prepared to receive, in very short notice, the initial shipments of the vaccine," Stack said. "They’ve been producing these vaccines prior to their approval in case they are approved, so they’re ready almost immediately, but the quantities will be small.”

Because of the short supply, Stack said distribution will take place in phases. The first people to be treated will be health care professionals and those who Stack said are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and transmitting it to others. First responders, vulnerable patients like those in nursing homes, and people with elevated risks will be the next groups to receive it. Stack said it may be late 2021 before it can be made accessible to everyone.

“This will take all of next year for us to deploy these things," Stack said. "We will probably have access to the people at the FDA and at CDC who were involved in this process so that they can answer our questions and help reassure us about the safety and the efficacy.”

Stack also told WAVE 3 News the vaccine rollout presents logistical challenges. He said the first vaccine may need two doses to work and may need to be stored in a freezer that can get to -112 degrees Fahrenheit.

“So it is an enormous logistical challenge, and it requires collaboration and tight coordination between the federal government, the state government the local county governments," Stack said.

Stack told WAVE 3 News the communication between the entities has been good enough for everyone to feel optimistic.

“This is nothing short of a modern marvel if we can pull this off," Stack said. “The American people should be very happy and proud of this kind of collaboration where it’s all hands on deck for people trying to get us back to a closer to our old normal lives that we know.”

Stack also encouraged Kentuckians to continue wearing masks and physically distancing themselves from other people despite the vaccine’s progress.

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