Two COVID-19 vaccine candidates are expected to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA in a matter of days, with another vaccine candidate not far behind. While several steps must occur prior to the vaccines being made available in our communities, this is a promising development in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
The following graphic helps to explain the vaccine's estimated approval timeline and journey to our facilities.
Initially, we know that vaccine supply will be limited. Caregivers are critically important to the fight against COVID-19 and some will be among the first to receive access. However, we don’t expect to receive enough vaccine to offer it to all caregivers, at first.
Teams of leaders across the family of organizations have developed a thoughtful, equitable process for distributing the vaccine among caregivers. In line with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the CDC advisory committee on vaccines, caregivers at highest risk of exposure based on role and work location will receive access to the vaccine first. Recommendations to prioritize include 1) those who work in designated COVID-19 units or provide direct or indirect care to COVID-19 patients; 2) those who provide services to patients or family members of patients; and 3) those who handle infectious materials. These groups will be prioritized before moving on to vaccinate other groups. Providence has created tool for our caregivers to help validate and verify their role and work location to streamline prioritization. The Validate and Verify (VAV) tool will release soon.
Additionally, the ACIP recommended caregivers, patients and residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities should get the COVID-19 vaccine during the initial phase. Other patient populations are expected to get access to the vaccine in the coming weeks and months as supply grows.
In the coming days and weeks, we will have more information on scheduling and next steps for the first wave of eligible caregivers. This communication will be through your local and regional teams. Submitting your information to the VAV Tool will create the most streamlined process for communication and is encouraged. This tool will be rolled out soon and made widely available.
All caregivers are encouraged to immunize when they become eligible, however at this time caregivers won’t be required to get the vaccine. Like PPE, vaccines are an important line of defense against disease. The COVID-19 vaccine is designed to protect us from contracting the virus or limit the severity of disease should we contract it. Vaccines can limit the spread of COVID-19 by helping to protect you and those around you. (See FAQ on vaccine safety and effectiveness).
These important details and many others are contingent on how much vaccine is allocated to the states. Providence continues to partner with local and federal public health authorities to help inform those determinations.
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