Vaccines Trickle Into State

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Michelle Phillips
A Pfizer employee packs COVID-19 vaccines to be sent around the country. Once the FDA gave emergency approval for the vaccine on Dec. 11, distribution began immediately, and doses of the vaccine began arriving in Wisconsin on Monday.

Editor’s note: In a previous vaccine article published on Dec.10, Julie Willems Van Dijk’s name was misspelled. It is corrected in this story.

WISCONSIN–After FDA (Food and Drug Administration) emergency approval on Dec. 11, Pfizer began rolling out their COVID-19 vaccine immediately. Wisconsin, which is poised to receive 49,725 doses, started receiving the vaccine on Monday. The first 10,000 doses arrived in the afternoon.

The Pfizer vaccine, the first to come on the market in the United States, is two shots taken three weeks apart and requires deep freeze at -60º to -80º C. In promotional videos for the vaccine on the Pfizer website, the company discusses transport and storage of the vaccine, which is being house in a “freezer farm” in Kalamazoo, MI. Doses will be sent around the country on dry ice to maintain the extreme cold required for the drug. Due to the extreme cold requirement, the state has set up a hub and spoke model for distribution with the distribution chain quipped with deep freezers. Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk told reporters on Monday that the locations are not being disclosed due to safety reasons, but that there are eight around the state.

The Moderna vaccine is currently being reviewed by the FDA and is expected to be approved on Friday. Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, it does not need to be kept extremely cold, and Willems Van Dijk said it will be sent directly to health care providers. The Moderna vaccine is also two doses taken four weeks apart.

The efficacy rate of the vaccine is similar to other vaccines at 95 percent after two doses according to a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) document “Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine” published Dec. 12. The document also states the efficacy rate at 52 percent after the first shot.

The report includes “special populations,” but offers no information on the effects on pregnant or lactating women. It is not recommended for those under 16 and reactions of those that are immunocompromised are unknown. 

Willems Van Dijk said most people do not have a reaction to the vaccine and those that did reported mild fever, aches or soreness and redness at the injection site.

The first group (1A) includes health care workers, who will immediately begin to get the vaccine. Long-term care facilities are also in this group and will start receiving doses at the end of the month.

“We hope all to have all of 1A vaccinated by the end of January,” Willems Van Dijk stated. “We are already working on 1B.”

She said when the vaccines become widely available, likely be a few months from now, they will be administered through health care system and places where you would normally get a flu shot like pharmacies and drive-thru clinics.

“We are asking for patience, there will be a number of ways people can secure the vaccine,” she said.

The doses were distributed by the federal government based on population and the state is following the same model of distribution at this time.

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