▶️ Deschutes Co. Health awaits federal guidance on COVID vaccine

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

The Trump administration released documents Wednesday outlining a strategy to deliver COVID 19 vaccines to the American people.

The distribution strategy proposes to deliver a safe and effective vaccine beginning in January.

According to Health and Human Services Director Alex Azar, Operation Warp Speed has spent months laying the groundwork to distribute a COVID 19 vaccine as soon as one meets the Food & Drug Administration’s requirements.

But those plans have yet to trickle down to the local level.

The Deschutes County Health Department has yet to receive guidelines for how the earliest doses of COVID 19 vaccine are to be distributed and to whom.

“We don’t know that at this time,” said Morgan Emerson, Deschutes County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “We’ll work closely with our partner agencies and Oregon Health Authority on how to roll that out.”

However, the national plan call for initial doses to be prioritized based on models developed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

“I don’t know whether that will be a local decision or a state decision,” Emerson said. “At the end of the day, we’ll work closely with Oregon Health Authority on determining vaccine information when we have that available.”

According to HHS, detailed planning is ongoing to ensure rapid distribution of a vaccine as soon as one is approved and the CDC recommends who should receive initial doses.

Once these decisions are made, the McKesson Corporation, which distributed a vaccine during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, will ship COVID 19 vaccinations to administration sites with logistical support from the Department of Defense.

“We are constantly thinking about preparedness locally whether that’s for flu season, fire season or things like measles or COVID,” Emerson said. “Right now we are working on strong partnerships with our local pharmacies and clinics, as well as strengthening our internal staff capacity for vaccines. ”

Operation Warp Speed’s vaccine distribution process calls for the earliest vaccines to go to priority groups; delivery of vaccines beyond brick and mortar facilities; tracking to match supply with demand and traceability to ensure recipients get a second dose.

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