MILWAUKEE — Now that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been endorsed by an FDA committee, we are watching for any signs of movement at the company’s facility in Pleasant Prairie, where doses of the vaccine are being stored, and are ready to go out to providers.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow the recommendation issued Thursday by its expert advisers.
Doses of the vaccine will be distributed to providers via UPS trucks, all of which will be escorted by Deputy U.S. Marshalls out of the Pfizer facility in Pleasant Prairie to their destinations.
Initially, the supply will be limited. The first shipment will likely be enough to vaccinate about 65,000 doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic in Wisconsin. There are more than 400,000 health care workers in our state.
“It's a scarce resource that is not going to meet the need for all healthcare workers right out of the gate, so we are still navigating how we prioritize and create a system of who gets the vaccines in exactly what order,” said Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Palm says there are no additional steps Pfizer needs to take in Wisconsin, upon approval from the FDA.
“There is not a regulatory issue here in the state,” Palm said. “The FDA approval is the only regulation needed, but there are safety and clinical guidance and requirements that need to be part of the rollout of the vaccine, including a review and list of side effects, dosing regimens, things that clinicians and actual vaccinators need to understand to safely dispense the vaccine. The CDC is in charge of getting those guidelines out to states, and states are constantly sharing that information with providers.”
Gov. Tony Evers requested that Wisconsin be a priority state for getting vaccine doses, because of the high number of cases and deaths here. Whether that request will be granted by authorities in Washington, D.C. remains to be seen.
“I have not heard yet,” Evers said. “We’re still hopeful we will hear soon.”
Leaders with some local providers, like Advocate Aurora, say they’re anticipating vaccinations of frontline workers to begin next week.
“We have been working on prioritizing our employees, for example, those that work directly and predominantly with COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg, Executive Director of Infectious Disease and Prevention for Advocate Aurora Health. “Those who work in intensive care, and so on, we will be putting out a vaccination schedule, knowing it might be a slow process until more doses are readily available.”
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