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As COVID-19 Vaccines Approach, Governments Gear Up for Distribution

This week, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released an analysis of different state government plans for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Current projections show that a limited number of COVID-19 vaccine doses may start to become available as early as December, with more doses available over time.  

While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has already announced that available COVID-19 vaccines will be covered for Medicare beneficiaries with no cost-sharing, who has first access is yet to be decided. State, territorial, and local governments, who already have primary authority over routine vaccination, will play an increasingly important role in distribution. In preparation, the federal government has asked jurisdictional immunization programs to develop COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made executive summaries of these plans available, there is no central repository for the full plans. KFF collected available plans and reviewed each plan to “gauge how states described their vaccine distribution planning progress to date.” They focused their analysis on the following key areas:

  • identifying priority populations for vaccination in their state;
  • identifying the network of providers in their state that will be responsible for administering vaccines;
  • developing the data collection and reporting systems needed to track vaccine distribution progress; and
  • laying out a communications strategy for the period before and during vaccination.

The report finds that states are in varying stages of preparation for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. While all have established a task force or planning committee to steer these efforts, which include representatives from different sectors, “some have been planning for several months while other states’ planning efforts have started more recently.” KFF notes that some states have already begun the process of signing up providers to administer COVID-19 vaccines, while others are still just developing plans to do the same. All states reported, however, that these initial plans are to be considered drafts only, to be updated as more information from the federal government and about a vaccine itself was available. Specifically, nearly every state cited the need to know which vaccine(s) would be authorized or approved and highlighted the need for clear guidance and direction from the federal government.

Read the KFF analysis.

Read about the importance of getting a flu vaccine in addition to a COVID vaccine.

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