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In the United States, the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed has contracted with six different vaccine manufacturers to begin manufacturing their vaccine prior to receiving FDA approval or Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
At this time, it is unknown how long immunity will last after vaccination or if annual boosters will be needed. The CDC’s Advisory Commission on Immunization Practices will issue guidance on any follow-up vaccinations as this data becomes available.
Initially, the vaccine will only be approved for adult populations and not targeted to minors. In October 2020, Pfizer expanded their clinical trial to children 12 and older, however, their initial submission for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is for use only in adults. Additional manufacturers may also expand their clinical trials to minors.
Vaccines undergo extensive trials to test both safety and efficacy before being released to the public. Additionally, the federal government has multiple safety programs that help monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety after authorization. For more information, see the CDC’s website.
The state is waiting on guidance from the vaccine manufactures and the CDC.
COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supplies will be distributed by the federal government at no cost to enrolled COVID-19 vaccination providers.
Protecting health care workers is essential to keeping the health care system intact and able to care for COVID-19 and other patients, so phase 1A of vaccine distribution, when the vaccine supply is most limited, will focus on making vaccine available to health care workers. Texas’ Expert Vaccine Advisory Panel has recommended, and the Commissioner of Department of State Health Services, John Hellerstedt has approved, health care workers likely to provide direct care for COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable residents to be the first group to receive the vaccine. This includes:
EVAP has produced detailed definitions of health care workers for the purposes of vaccination.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has identified vulnerable and frontline populations that will have priority access to the vaccine. The Expert Vaccine Advisory Panel (EVAP) will make decisions regarding when each of these population swill receive the vaccine. The identified populations are:
Patients should not get both vaccines simultaneously. Guidance on how long to wait between influenza (flu shot) and COVID-19 vaccines will be provided by the CDC.
Mortality and morbidity data collected over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates that COVID-19 has the most severe effects on people who are 65 years and older and individuals with comorbidities. Protecting these higher-risk individuals is of the utmost concern in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Texas death certificate data, more than 70 percent of the deaths directly caused by COVID-19 are among people 65 years and older. Additionally, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions have an increased risk of severe disease, defined as hospitalization, admission to the intensive care unit, mechanical ventilation or death.
In Texas, Phase 1B of vaccination will focus on people for whom there is strong and consistent evidence that COVID-19 makes them more likely to become very sick or die. Preventing the disease among people who have these risk factors will dramatically reduce the number of Texans who die from the disease and relieve pressure on the healthcare system by reducing hospital and ICU admissions. Vaccination will also reduce absenteeism among the front-line workers at the greatest risk of severe disease and protect individuals at risk for health inequities.
Because Phase 1B provides vaccine to higher-risk people regardless of their work sector or status, it will provide protection for a number of critical populations at an increased risk of getting COVID-19: communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and other chronic diseases; teachers and school staff who ensure that Texas children can learn in a safe environment; social services workers who ensure that those in need receive care and support; workers who maintain critical infrastructure to support the Texas economy; and other front-line workers who are unable to work remotely and so are more likely to be exposed.
As Texas progresses into Phase 1B in the coming weeks, the state will work with vaccine providers and local partners to ensure that people who are 65 and older or have the medical conditions listed below and who also work in front-line and critical industries have access to the vaccine so they will be protected from COVID-19 while on the job. Texas equally will strive to ensure vaccine reaches communities with health disparities in accordance with Texas Vaccine Allocation Guiding Principles. Communication and outreach will encourage vaccine uptake among these populations during Phase 1B.