We now know Wisconsin will receive nearly 50,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine the first week after its approved.
The FDA is set to review the drugmaker's application for emergency use authorization on Thursday.
Healthcare workers and residents of long term care facilities will be the first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with the initial 49,725 doses anticipated by the end of the year.
But with 450,000 people making up those two groups across Wisconsin, State health officials say the process to vaccinate them won't happen overnight.
“I’m anticipating it will at least take a couple of months for us to get the first dose to everyone,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS Deputy Secretary
So who will be prioritized among the priority groups? The Department of Health Services and local providers will have to be strategic in rationing that early limited supply. A volunteer group made up of Wisconsin health professionals called the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee recommends the state take into account other societal factors as well.
“Things like poverty and economics and for this disease, congregate setting and density of housing,” Julie Willems Van Dijk said. “They also looked at attributes of the systems and whether they would have the ability to distribute the vaccine to other people—other healthcare workers who are at risk, like emergency medical services providers who may not have as easy a way to distribute vaccine among their smaller group of healthcare workers.”
Targeting those most at risk, while working with Pfizer's requirement of cold storage, will determine the location of the first recipients, as well.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will be looking at the next tiers of people eligible for the vaccine, whether it's other essential workers, people over 65, or those with comorbidities. Phases 1B, 1C and Phase 2 of the vaccines will come before the general public, said officials.
Early timeframes for the vaccination of the general public were estimated to happen in the summer of 2021, according to officials.
"We want to protect as many people as we can, that's important," said Stephanie Schauer, Ph.D., program manager of the Division of Public Health Immunization.
Vaccine hubs will be in both rural and urban areas, primarily from a healthcare provider, but will move into more community-based vaccination clinics, as the state did with testing sites.
A vaccine has not yet been approved by the FDA because it needs to be determined as safe for administration. Officials wanted to remind those who are skeptical, the vaccines given for other diseases have always ranged in efficacy.
"Any vaccine that is approved is going to have greater efficacy than simply sitting here exposed to COVID-19," DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said. "It will definitely protect you better than not having any vaccine at all."
Vaccines will be free of charge as they have been purchased by the federal government. Insurance companies will cover the administration fees and if you do not have insurance, the state network will be working to cover that for those in need.
Officials anticipate the doses to start being given out in December, although there is no set timeline as to when they will be received.