Washington is not one of four pilot states, but it is planning

   OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Health on Sept. 17 provided the following update on progress being made toward a COVID-19 vaccine.

  Five federal regions (four states and a city) were chosen to be pilot states in the CDC’s planning. Washington was not chosen, however. Still, the state intends to develop a plan based on lessons learned from the pilot project. “Yesterday we received, from the federal government, the interim playbook. We are now reviewing it, and are on a 30-day clock to return our plans by Oct. 16.”

  State Health reminds people that when a coronavirus vaccine is approved and released, there will not be enough of it at first to offer to everyone. Prioritization will happen at the federal level first. Because there won’t be a lot of vaccine available in the first round, the state will work on further prioritization.

  Some possibilities for the first priority groups to receive vaccine are: essential workers, health care workers, and residents and workers at long-term care facilities.

  All possible vaccine candidates are in various stages of testing in humans to ensure they are both safe and effective. Washington state will watch the FDA approval process closely to make sure it is thorough and transparent. “The department is committed to science and the need to critically evaluate these new vaccines for their safety and efficacy in an unbiased way before their use. We will know more once current studies conclude.”

  It’s typical for most vaccine candidates to not make it to the final stages of testing, so it’s not expected that 100% of all COVID-19 vaccine candidates will come to market.

  Vaccine distribution will adjust over time as the number of available doses increases, moving from limited to broader populations in a phased approach.

  The federal government will cover the cost of the coronavirus vaccine. It is possible that healthcare providers may charge a fee to administer the vaccine, and/or for the cost of an office visit. Health insurance will most likely cover these fees. “We will work with other state agencies to understand and address barriers related to health insurance coverage, and to make the vaccine accessible at no cost to people without health insurance.” 

  Supply kits will include vaccine record cards, alcohol swabs, syringes, limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and similar items needed to administer a vaccine. More will be known about what supplies are needed once vaccines are approved. For example, one vaccine candidate may need to use a freezer with ultra-cold temperatures beyond a typical vaccine freezer’s capability. This vaccine may need to be shipped directly from the manufacturer to the site of vaccination.

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