With widespread vaccination held up as the path out of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing an effective vaccine is only half the job—it must also be produced en masse and distributed to as many people as possible.
Loudoun County’s Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend said his office is planning for that work, building on the vaccination plans used for another type of respiratory virus, H1N1 or swine flu.
“We’re probably going to do a variation of our drive-through testing or drive-through vaccination plan in addition to our facility-based plans,” Goodfriend told county supervisors Nov. 5. “So, we’re working closely with all of our partners getting everyone back up to speed on what each one of them was like, because we’ve had a lot of turnover since 2009.”
Vaccination will probably come in two phases, he said: a first phase going to certain targeted populations, and as production of the vaccine ramps up, broader vaccination for the general public. The first phase will mean partnerships with long-term care facilities, which house some of the most vulnerable people and which had to quickly adapt at the beginning of the pandemic.
“There’s funding from the federal government where those pharmacies can partner with the long-term care facilities to go out on site and provide the vaccine,” Goodfriend said. “We’ve been working with our long-term care facilities to maximize the number who sign up for that because we think that’s by far the easiest option for them.”
And for now, he said, the Health Department will continue to watch cases to see if they climb as the weather changes, and prepare for winter when they are expected to—along with other seasonal infections such as the flu. On Sunday, the seven-day average of new daily cases climbed above 52 for the first time since July 1.
Goodfriend encouraged people to help hospitals from being overrun as COVID-19 cases climb by getting the flu vaccine now.
On Monday, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech announced they have had better-than-expected results with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. They will now continue to monitor test subjects for negative side effects, expecting to have results in the third week of November. Pfizer projects they will be able to produce up to 50 million doses globally by the end of the year, and up to 1.3 billion in 2021.