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Idaho prepares for vaccine distribution

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-Two COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, appear to be most likely to reach the public first.  Both are reportedly about 90 to 95% effective.  There are about 200 other vaccines also under development.

As the process of approval with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control moves forward, the states are working on plans to distribute vaccine to the public.

Idaho has submitted a request to accept early distribution, so the state is expected to be among the first to get a very limited number of doses.   It is estimated 45,000 to 65,000 doses could be coming in December, but the bulk of the population will probably not have a chance to get it until late spring or summer.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses and must be stored at a temperature of 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.   Eastern Idaho Public Health reports it has ordered a low temperature freezer and should have one in Idaho Falls by December 3.

According to Eastern Idaho Public Health department plans, the first phase of vaccinations, beginning in December or January, will strictly target health care workers.  The priorities are first; hospital and clinical staff, long-term care staff, EMS and emergency responders, out and in-patient medical staff, pharmacists, dentists, and then public health and emergency management.

Phase Two, expected between January 2021 and July 2021, would ensure access for those not yet vaccinated in Phase One.  Eastern Idaho Public Health has outlined additional priorities for a Phase 1-B vaccination plan.

That will prioritize approximately 12,223 residents of long term care facilities in the region, then about 266,059 adults aged 65 and older who are living in the community.  The priorities then move to older adults, non-EMS first-responders, teachers, food processing and grocery store workers.    

Phase Two distribution will stretch from January into July and include additional health care, EMS workers, and other priority populations.

Phase Three is forecast to run from July to October and will see broader distribution of vaccine to the entire population.

In Phase Four, from October 2021 forward, the plan is to continue to reach the entire population and possibly include boosters or annual vaccines, if required.   By then, the vaccine should be available to individual health care providers.

The efficacy of the vaccine will depend on getting enough people immunized to have a significant impact on community spread.  According to the research group, Wallethub, 35% of Americans would not get a COVID-19 vaccination, even if it was free.

Idaho is not particularly successful at immunization. In overall vaccination rates, Idaho ranks #35 among the states at 43%. Wyoming ranks #47 at 34.9%.     

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