The state of Kansas filed a draft of its vaccine distribution plan last Friday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The plan, first reported by the Kansas City Star, would distribute to the state’s approximately 2.9 million residents a vaccine for the coronavirus when one arises. The plan is currently under review by the CDC.
Currently, no vaccine for COVID-19 has been approved yet. Pfizer, which signed a $1.95 billion pact with the U.S. government, has said it could have one as early as late November. Other companies, like Johnson & Johnson, had to pause vaccine trials last week due to unexpected illnesses, and trials by AstraZeneca and Oxford University were paused as well.
Whenever that vaccine comes, the distribution will be in three phases, according to the plan.
"It is anticipated that the COVID-19 vaccine will initially be available in very limited doses but will scale up introduction rapidly allowing for enough supply to vaccinate all," the plan said.
During the first phase, when availability is limited, the vaccine will first go to health care personnel. Then, other essential workers, long-term care residents, and those at higher risk of the virus (65 years or older, or underlying conditions) will be next in line.
Hospitals and health departments across Kansas will be targeted as sites to provide the vaccine, which will then have to maintain and monitor vaccine inventory. In places with limited access to hospitals and health departments, mobile clinics may be deployed.
In Phase 2, when supply of the vaccine can meet demand, vaccination capacity will be increased as health centers in the safety net system, pharmacies, long term facilities and other local health care providers will join in on providing the vaccine. Phase 3 is when the vaccine becomes widely available, but the state will continually monitor areas under-covered by the vaccine.
The logistics of distributing the vaccine will have to be figured out, as some vaccines may require ultra-cold storage. Otherwise, "if the cold chain is not properly maintained, potency will be lost completely, and vaccines will be useless," the plan said. Ensuring that most if not all providers have cold-storage capability will be a challenge.
Complicating matters further is the fact a second dose of a vaccine could be required. Kansas’ plan would give out vaccine cards to people documenting the time of the first dose and when a second dose will need to be applied.
The vaccine should be free, according to the plan.
Another challenge will be getting those skeptical of the vaccine to come forward and take it. According to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, just 46% of Americans want a COVID-19 vaccine.
The state’s plan to counter that is a communication strategy targeted at countering myths and providing updates on vaccine development to the public.
"Our program’s goal is to build vaccine confidence broadly and among groups anticipated to receive early vaccination, as well as dispel vaccine misinformation to help ensure vaccine uptake," the plan said.