First US COVID vaccine immunizations could arrive on Dec. 12

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WASHINGTON — The head of the U.S. effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine says the first immunizations could happen on Dec. 12.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is set to meet Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer Inc.’s request for an emergency use authorization for its developing COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced that the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the Operation Warp Speed, the coronavirus vaccine program, says plans are to ship vaccines to states within 24 hours of expected FDA approval.

Slaoui told CNN he expects vaccinations would begin on the second day after approval, Dec. 12

Dr. John Sanders, the chief of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Health,

didn’t take a second to hesitate when FOX8 asked him if he would take any new COVID vaccination.

Sanders can’t wait until the vaccines are approved.

“The more vaccines we have that work, the better in terms of providing coverage to people who need it,” he added.

Time is running out.

“I cannot stress enough, the numbers are going up, and the metrics are going in the wrong direction right now,” said Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann.

She said these announcements couldn’t have come at a better time.

They’re all just waiting for the Emergency Use Authorization to start rolling out the vaccines. 

“Once the [authorization happens], we’ll start to see in the hundreds of thousands to millions…doses getting out across the nation in the next month or so,” Sanders said. 

Then the state health department will allocate the doses to each local health department.

It’ll happen in four phases, starting with those who are on the frontlines.

“It’s going to include healthcare workers, COVID-19 responders that are high risk for exposures, doctors and nurses,” Vann said.

Next up, those who live or work in long-term or congregant care facilities and adults who are at high risk for serious complications.

“Based on the early reports, the vaccine will go out to everyone in the state early in the summer,” Sanders said.

Thanks to Federal CARES dollars, the vaccines won’t cost a thing to anyone.

But there will be some challenges: the medicine needs to be kept at a certain temperature.

“A big problem with that will be getting it out to rural areas and harder to reach areas that might not have the ultra-low freezer capacity,” Sanders said.

Both doctors are certain it’s all worth the effort to get people protected.

“The FDA and our federal partners will not put a vaccine on the market if it’s not safe,” Vann said.

“There’s a long track record of this approach being safe. I think there’s been a spectacular result in the efficacy here,” Sanders said. 

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