MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week, the world had hopeful news on the COVID-19 vaccine front.
Researchers say one leading contender showed a good immune response. But once a vaccine is manufactured, it has to be distributed. The big question in many minds is who will get to receive it first.
WCCO spoke with Patsy Stinchfield, a pediatric infectious disease nurse practitioner at Children’s Minnesota.
“I think we’re all cautiously optimistic to be able to say that. It’s what happens after that I think we need to get our expectations correct around,” Stinchfield said. “Once we roll it out, it will be in tiers.”
So even as the manufacturers make millions of doses, the same time researchers study it.
“We did this with H1N1 vaccine. We’ll have initially very few numbers of vaccine and we’ll have to decide who gets it first,” Stinchfield said.
A committee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes that decision.
“Those are very public meetings,” Stinchfield said.
She is one of the committee’s liaison representatives.
“You decide based on risk, so that would be healthcare workers who are on the front lines taking care of people with COVID. You have to have healthy people that take care of sick people,” she said.
After that, it’s high-risk groups, perhaps older people or people with pre-existing conditions.
“We are very concerned about the disproportionate impact on people of color,” she said.
None of this has been decided yet.
“There are certain people that should expect that they need to wait,” Stinchfield said. “It might even be pediatric patients.”
That’s because kids are less likely to get sick.
“To have us be able to vaccinate all of the United States. It will take us several months to do that, and maybe even most of next year,” she said.
It’s not clear yet if the vaccine will come to the states or go directly to providers, but Stinchfield recounts the situation in 2009 at Children’s Minnesota during H1N1.
“We got 1,000 doses for our patients,” she said. “And we sat in a room and we debated this.”
They’re planning on that again.
“I hope we don’t have to do that, but I’d rather be prepared,” she said.
And it is a lot more complicated than some statements made from federal officials that we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year.
“There’s a lot of things that can go wrong, but the other thing to be encouraged about is there’s a lot of us who do this regularly, and we are working hard thinking through all of those elements,” Stinchfield said. “We’ll be ready.”
Stinchfield says it’s important to note that enough people need to actually take the vaccine for herd immunity. That would require more than 50%, but 60% to 80% would be better.
In the 2018-19 flu season, 53% of Minnesotans were vaccinated for influenza.
Source: CBS Minnesota