PITTSBURGH — When a COVID-19 vaccine is available, Pennsylvania is ready to administer it, according to the state’s Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.
Levine addressed the state’s preparedness for a vaccine Monday, the same day Pfizer announced that, based on early data, the vaccine it’s working on may be 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.
A safety study still needs to be done. That could wrap up by the end of November or beginning of December.
Then, the federal government will do its own tests.
Levine said the storage of this particular vaccine is what’s going to be tricky.
“The Pfizer vaccine is the one that is ultra-cold. That’s the one that is -70 to -80 degrees and has to be kept on dry ice or in ultra-cold refrigeration units. So, that poses challenges, but we’ve already reached out to hospitals and health systems to be able to accomplish that,” Levine said.
Once the vaccine is ready for distribution, it would be administered in phases.
The first phase would be for primary health care workers. High risk patients and essential workers would come next.
Levine said it will likely take “months and months and months” to work through all the phases of distribution to get vaccines to the “millions and millions” of Pennsylvanians needed to slow rampant community spread, Channel 11′s news exchange partners at TribLIVE reported.
A company based in Pittsburgh has been working with about 15 states on the most effective way to distribute that vaccine.
A Washington County commissioner is taking part in the clinical trials for the vaccine.
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