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ND could get vaccines shipped 24 hours after approval

COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 Vaccine(NBC News Channel)
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 8:22 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - As pharmaceutical companies continue to develop and approve their COVID vaccines, states are preparing their plans for distribution.

Earlier Wednesday, the Department of Health said the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Health Care leaders said the distribution is going to be a challenge, and that’s tied to the unknowns, specifically around how many doses each state will receive at any given time. Even on a week-by-week basis. Officials anticipate two vaccines being available by Dec. 17 following approval by the FDA.

Despite North Dakota being a pilot testing site for the vaccine, we’ll be getting shipments the same time as other states, which could be as soon as 24 hours after approval.

“Without a vaccine, there is really every reason to expect that the virus will continue to work its way through our communities, through the population until it’s infected probably most of us over the next several months,” said Dr. Paul Carson, director of the NDSU Center for Research Immunization and Education.

Logistically, the State Lab has two major challenges. The number of doses shipped and the temperature.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be frozen at temps ranging to negative 70 degrees Celsius. But, with unknowns for how much the state will get and how many people use it, the NDDoH is considering pre-registering for the vaccine ahead of time.

“If there uptake amongst staff is only 80% instead of 100%, we don’t want to send them doses for 100% of staff and see doses go to waste, and so I think pre-registration for clinics will be key,” said Immunization Director Molly Howell.

To help with storage, the lab plans on utilizing shipping containers and a warehouse to serve as a central shipping location.

As expected, health care workers and long-term care residents and workers are the first groups to receive the vaccine.

The priority list could change in the coming weeks as federal guidance comes out. There are no anticipated mandates regarding vaccine use.

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