The world-wide battle against the COVID-19 pandemic may enter a new phase today when the U.S. Food and Drug Authority meets to consider approval to the Pfizer preventive vaccine.
With this approval and the upcoming sanctioning of other treatment options, the focus now shifts to the capabilities of health care and government agencies to deliver the medication to where it is most needed and on a timely basis.
At West Burlington’s Great River Medical Center, the challenge of administering the preventive vaccine is receiving foremost attention. But the need for government policy regarding a national vaccine longterm rollout may complicate future medical effort. Who gets what and when remains an issue.
“The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines where the initial inoculations will go with priority on front line medical staff and to patients in nursing homes,” Great River Health Chief Medical Officer Michael McCoy explained. “Most states will go with those recommendations. There are some states, however, with unique conditions that will vary from the CDC guidelines — but not many.”
This initial CDC guidance will prove vital. On average, COVID-19 is killing more than 1,550 Americans daily, with the Midwest rapidly becoming an epicenter for the disease. In Iowa, 80% of ICU beds are now occupied and many facilities are on the knife-edge of being overwhelmed. Therefore, a coordinated effort to meet this challenge going forward is vital
As the initial treatment and prevention effort rolls out, Iowa’s initial allotment of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is estimated to be approximately 172,000 doses, with shipments scheduled to begin arriving within the next two weeks.
Although this number sounds impressive, GRMC Infection Prevention Coordinator Stefanie Gall is not certain of how many doses of Iowa’s initial allotment are destined to reach Des Moines County.
“The CDC guidelines on who should receive the initial vaccine do make sense,” Gall said. “But we are still uncertain if at first there will be enough doses to take care of front-line staff and those at the Klein Center.”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that hospitals have been alerted to how many doses they will receive, but the Iowa Department of Public Health has advised against the release of those numbers for security purposes.
More:Getting a vaccine has been a huge undertaking. How all 50 states scramble to dole them out is the next massive challenge.
Subsequent receipts of the Pfizer medication in Des Moines County — and the following Moderna manufactured vaccine — will continue to be earmarked for residents of nursing homes and other heath-care workers.
But when that need is filled, without continuing CDC guidance, the distribution becomes increasingly complicated with competing interests clamoring to be at the head of the line.
The urgency facing Iowa and the need to resolve policy questions…