US Gov’t Releases Plan for COVID-19 Vaccine DistributionBy
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Department of Defense (DoD) released two documents outlining the US government’s strategy to deliver COVID-19 vaccine doses once vaccines are proven effective and safe and are available with a target of distributing 100 million doses by January 2021.
The documents, developed by the HHS in coordination with the DoD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provide a strategic distribution overview along with an interim playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local public health programs and their partners on how to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions.
The strategic overview lays out four tasks necessary for the COVID-19 vaccine program as outlined below.
- Engage with state, tribal, territorial, and local partners, other stakeholders, and the public to communicate public health information around the vaccine and promote vaccine confidence and uptake.
- Distribute vaccines immediately upon granting of emergency use authorization or approval of a biologics license application by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) using a transparently developed, phased allocation methodology with the CDC making vaccine recommendations.
- Ensure safe administration of the vaccine and availability of administration supplies.
- Monitor necessary data from the vaccination program through an information technology (IT) system capable of supporting and tracking distribution, administration, and other necessary data.
Last month, the CDC executed an existing contract option with McKesson, a large distributor and wholesaler of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to support vaccine distribution. The company also distributed the H1N1 vaccine during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010. The current contract with McKesson, awarded as part of a competitive bidding process in 2016, includes an option for the distribution of vaccines in the event of a pandemic.
Through the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the CDC will play a role in deciding, based on input from experts and stakeholders, how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed with a target of producing more than 100 million doses by January 2021.
The HHS says that detailed planning is ongoing to ensure rapid distribution as soon as the FDA authorizes or approves a COVID-19 vaccine and the CDC makes recommendations for whom should receive initial doses. Once these decisions are made, McKesson will work under the CDC’s guidance, with logistical support from the DoD, to ship COVID-19 vaccines to administration sites.
The distribution plan is part of Operation Warp Speed, a partnership among components of the HHS and the DoD with private firms and other federal agencies to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.