Florida coronavirus vaccine plans come into focus as shots get closer to approval

The state has discussed how it will prioritize who gets the first doses once a coronavirus vaccine has been approved by the FDA.

MIAMI – Add AstraZeneca to the list of companies now seeking approval for its COVID-19 vaccine.

The British drugmaker says its version is easier to scale up than those from Moderna and Pfizer’s because it is less expensive per shot, and similar to Moderna’s, it can be stored at normal refrigerator tempertures.

As the Food and Drug Administration begins to schedule hearings to review claims by all three companies that their vaccines are highly effective, we are learning more about Florida’s plans to distribute a vaccine.

A phased approach would expand to the general public as more doses become available.

Healthcare personnel would be the top priority, followed by essential workers, people with medical conditions that place them at high-risk for COVID-19, and adults 65 and older.

“Then we would go to longterm care centers and then the critical infrastructure employees and then the rest of us,” said Dr. Bindu Mayi, an infectious disease expert at Nova Southeastern University.

The state’s draft plan adds that one distribution strategy is to use “drive-thru vaccination stations similar to those established for COVID-19 testing.”

Once we enter the next phases, marked by more vaccine doses being available, is when it could start becoming available at traditional vaccine providers like doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

Infectious disease experts say adherence to the virus prevention guidelines isstill quite critical amid this time of mounting cases — given that we are in the infancy of the vaccine approval and distribution process.

“The vaccine has not yet received is emergency authorization, it is not yet distributed,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease expert at Florida International University. “You have to have the population vaccinated with whatever vaccine in order to have a real effect on public health.”

The FDA has scheduled a hearing to discuss Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine for Dec. 10. Hearing dates have not yet been posted for –Moderna or AstraZeneca.

More about Florida’s vaccine plans

Florida Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

FDOH COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

Also see

What does emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine mean?

Two South Florida hospitals will be among the first to get coronavirus vaccines

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."