Experts give vaccine update amid Wisconsin's COVID-19 surge

As the coronavirus surges across Wisconsin, the push toward a viable vaccine continues.

FOX6 News on Wednesday, Nov. 11 learned the latest details about a potential vaccine distributed -- once approved -- across Wisconsin.

The state's bio-health leaders are weighing-in on what Wisconsinites can expect next, following news Monday that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is 90% in clinical trials.

"Once they hopefully get approval, final approval from the FDA, is that they will be shipping out that vaccine, which they have already manufactured," said Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward Wisconsin.

Johnson said the vaccine will then go to Pfizer's distribution site in Pleasant Prairie. It will likely be one of around a dozen vaccines that experts say will ultimately become available by next year.

Residents line up at a mobile COVID-19 test center staffed by members of the Wisconsin National Guard on the grounds of Miller Park on October 29, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

"So you want a lot of different -- and you may have heard it, I love the hockey analogy, a lot of shots on goal -- is that you want multiple vaccines coming out, just because this is a global pandemic, we’re not just trying to vaccinate a small population," Johnson said.

In Madison, UW Health is conducting a clinical trial of another COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with AstraZeneca.

"This is the last phase before it goes for approval," said William Hartman, principal investigator with UW Health.

Researchers explain that variety in vaccines will help improve access. While Pfizer's must be stored in extreme cold, other vaccines can be kept closer to room temperature.

"Your average place out in the communities doesn’t have access to those kind of freezers," Dr. Jim Conway, a UW Health pediatric infectious disease specialist, said.

The state will then decide who gets priority. Among the first wave of vaccinations will be health care workers, people over 65 in long-term care facilities and essential workers. In the second way, other critical populations will be eligible for vaccination before it is eventually open to the general public.

"You have a right to have questions -- whatever the vaccine, whatever the drug you’re taking," Johnson said.

Johnson acknowledges that the process is moving fast, but assures that health and safety are the top priorities and the long-term goal.

"This stops it. We want this pandemic over with," said Johnson.

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