State health officials share plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine

NOW: State health officials share plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine

MILWAUKEE, WI (CBS 58) – Wisconsin is already planning and preparing to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Department of Health and Human Services held a question and answer call on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The focus was on being ready when a vaccine is approved.

An application with the FDA has yet to be submitted, but state officials say they’re already looking at their resources.

They want to make sure any potential vaccine is easily accessible.

The state’s department of health services says once a vaccine becomes available, they will be distributing in phases.

It will begin with assisted living facilities and front-line workers.

“As vaccine supply builds, we’ll be moving into other settings,” says Deputy Secretary Julie Williams Van Dijk, with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

One of the biggest challenges will be storing the vaccine at the right temperature.

They’re looking for freezer space across the state, even talking to local dry ice manufacturers.

It’s not clear how many doses the state will get.

“It will be based off population,” says Stephanie Schauer, Ph. D., Division of Public Health Immunization program manager. “So the state of Wisconsin’s population will figure out the number of doses that we will be allocated to begin with.”

They say there will be partnerships with hospitals and pharmacies to not only store the vaccine, but assist with distribution.

“We want a fair amount of people to be immunized,” says Schauer. “Influenza for example, we were looking at 80%. Given the nature of this it’s somewhere in the ballpark.”

Officials say they have been told by their federal partners to expect a vaccine by the end of 2020.

“CDC has estimated it would take $5.5 - $6 billion to effectively distribute this vaccine,” says Van Dijk. “We agree that the state of Wisconsin will need more than $3.1 million to get millions of doses of this vaccine into the arms of everyone in the state.”

Officials say part of those funds have been used to augment local efforts, local and tribal health as they gear up to provide immunizations and help bolster up the Wisconsin immunization registry.

“This is what public health gears up for and we are building on what we know works,” says Van Dijk.

CBS 58 reached out to the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. They have a potential vaccine and distribution center in Pleasant Prairie.

They say that site will have a designated area to store that vaccine.

They say they are also currently investing in that facility; buying required equipment and hiring additional staff.

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