A panel of outside experts will offer their recommendation Thursday, and a final decision from the FDA is expected shortly thereafter.
Packed in dry ice to stay at deep-frozen temperatures, shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will reach an additional 400 hospitals and other distribution sites, a day after the death toll in the country surpassed a staggering number of 300,000. The first 3 million vaccines are being strictly rationed for front-line healthcare workers and elderly care patients, and hundreds of millions more vaccines will be needed in the coming months to protect the majority of Americans.
The first deliveries of vaccines have provided a measure of encouragement to exhausted doctors, nurses, and hospital staff across the country.
Johnnie Peoples, a 43-year-old survival flight nurse, was excited and a little nervous Monday afternoon when he unbuttoned his flight suit and extended his left arm to become the first person to receive the vaccine at the Medical Center. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“Just being a part of this is a good feeling,” he said.
Since March, it has flown critically ill COVID-19 patients from smaller hospitals across the state to the university medical center. It’s an up-close and personal job that requires you to adjust your ventilator settings and deliver infusions to keep your blood pressure from plummeting.
In Florida, government officials expect to have 100,000 doses of the vaccine by Tuesday at five hospitals across the state.
“That’s 20,000 doses of hope,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, after delivering 3,900 vials of vaccines on Monday. Each vial has five doses.
Because the vaccine requires two rounds, people receiving injections will now need a second injection in about three weeks.
Vaccines were also expected to begin Tuesday in New Jersey, which is dividing about 76,000 doses between healthcare workers and nursing home residents. The federal government is coordinating the mass delivery operation by private shipping and distribution companies based on locations chosen by state governors.
Following another initial set of deliveries on Wednesday, Trump administration Operation Warp Speed officials in Washington said they will begin moving 580 more shipments over the weekend.
“We are beginning our pace of continuous delivery of the vaccine as it becomes available,” Army Gen. Gustave Perna, Warp Speed’s director of operations, told reporters. “We pack and deliver. It’s a constant stream of available vaccine.”
Vaccinations for nursing home residents won’t begin in most states until next Monday, when about 1,100 facilities are scheduled to begin vaccines.
Perna and other US officials reiterated their projection that 20 million Americans will be able to receive their first injections by the end of December and 30 million more in January.
Last month, Moderna and NIH reported that their vaccine appeared to be nearly 95 percent effective in various ages and racial groups, based on the results of an ongoing study of 30,000 people. The main side effects were fatigue, muscle aches and pain at the injection site after the second dose. These flu-like reactions are common to many vaccines and are a sign that the vaccine is boosting the immune system to help fight the virus.
Moderna did not report major safety issues in her study. But the FDA panel will surely analyze the data for signs of possible serious allergic reactions or other rare side effects. Officials in the UK are investigating various adverse reactions there with the Pfizer vaccine and the FDA is closely monitoring the launch here for similar reports.
Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s injections are so-called mRNA vaccines, a completely new technology. They are not made with the coronavirus itself, which means that there is no possibility that someone could get it from the injections. Instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the enriched protein on the surface of the virus.
– Reported with Associated Press