Health officials in Illinois are continuing to lay out their plans for distribution of a coronavirus vaccine as two major pharmaceutical companies report good results with their treatments for the disease.
According to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, a vaccine engineered by Pfizer, which has seen a 90% efficacy rate in clinical trials, could be submitted for review by the Food and Drug Administration within the next two weeks.
Another vaccine, engineered by Moderna, has a 94% efficacy rate in clinical trials according to the company, and could follow suit in seeking FDA approval in early December.
If that approval process, which could take several weeks, ends up with the vaccines being approved for emergency use, Ezike says that state residents could begin getting the treatment by the end of 2020.
“If everything goes well, and the FDA looks at all those materials favorably, we could have the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December, and we could have the Moderna vaccine at the beginning of January,” she said.
Under the state’s current vaccination plans, healthcare workers and residents of congregate care facilities like senior citizen living centers will be among the first to get the vaccine, with first responders and other state residents following as the state receives more doses of the treatment.
Dr. Allison Arwady, director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city will follow a similar path, with the city planning to receive approximately 150,000 doses in the first wave of vaccines after FDA approval.
Those initial doses will go to healthcare workers and to other employees in hospitals that have been on the front line of the fight against coronavirus, according to Arwady. After that, first responders and residents and employees of long-term care facilities would be next in line to receive the virus.
The city says it is working on plans to help expedite the process of getting the vaccine out, expanding the capacity of facilities that will store the vaccines at the low temperatures that the drug will require. Even so, officials warn that it will likely be the spring or summer of 2021 before the vaccine is available for widespread distribution.
“Even if we are receiving doses by the end of the year, it’s going to be months before we have the amount of vaccine before we can start talking about vaccinating hundreds of thousands of Chicago residents,” Arwady said.