Regional COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan expected this week
Dr. Konrad Nau, medical director at Renew Senior Communities, will update Roaring Fork Valley residents in a webinar Friday following the FDA’s vaccine approval Thursday
What: Renew Talks Health, a live webinar about the prioritization of vaccine recipient groups, new data on side effects, and challenging ethics issues facing public officials.
When: Friday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m.
Who: Renew Senior Communities Medical Director Dr. Konrad Nau and CEO Lee Tuchfarber.
Cost: Free. Register at renewsenior.com.
Thursday’s Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine marks a hopeful time in the fight against a global pandemic that has upended lives and livelihoods around the world.
On Friday, Renew Senior Communities is hosting a special webinar featuring its medical director, Dr. Konrad Nau, who has been involved at the regional and state levels on coordinating the logistics of the vaccine’s rollout. Dr. Nau will address the latest information announced by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in this timely web talk, hosted by Renew Senior Communities CEO Lee Tuchfarber.
“By Friday, we’re going to know a lot more about how many doses of the vaccine Colorado is getting, and how many doses our region is getting. We’ll also have more clarity about how many doses will be made available for the long-term care populations and the estimated date of arrival for those,” Dr. Nau said. “If the CDC grants emergency use on Thursday, those vaccines will be shipped out over the weekend.”
High-priority vaccine recipients
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently included long-term care facility residents — who have been one of the hardest hit populations by COVID-19 mortality nationwide — in the highest priority group for vaccine distribution.
“The way the plan is laid out now, distribution trickles down as each priority tier category gets their allotment filled. Phase one is high-priority people, healthcare workers and long-term care residents; phase two gets into essential workers who are not healthcare workers, prisons and dormitories, adults 65 and older and those with high-risk conditions; and phase three is the general public,” Dr. Nau said. “It’s expected that the vaccine will be precious and in short supply in December and January, then things will open up more as more vaccines are manufactured.”
Of course, long-term care facilities such as Renew Senior Communities can’t require residents to take a vaccine. The next step is to ask staff and residents whether they will take a vaccine once it’s available, Dr. Nau said.
“I think that’s going to be part of our facilities, as well as public health, education so people understand the real risks and benefits of the vaccine,” he said.
Plans for distribution
Renew Senior Communities submitted its application more than a month ago to ensure its added to the list of facilities seeking vaccines. That was a critical step in ensuring the quickest receipt of vaccines, Tuchfarber said.
“It’s wonderful to have the guidance of Dr. Nau, who is on the front lines of the information flow and the implementation of this rollout,” he said. “The most exciting aspect about this is that we’re moving closer toward a solution. I am just pinching myself that the vaccine is actually on its way. It’s a far more aggressive timeline than I anticipated even just a couple of months ago.”
For long-term care facilities, the distribution is going to come from Walgreen’s and CVS, both of which have the direct contracts with the CDC to be the administrating sources. The proportion of total vaccines distributed to each state is based on the population of each state as a percentage of total U.S. population. Colorado is about 1.8 percent of the U.S. population.
What’s not yet clear is the proportion of vaccines that will be distributed to pharmacies vs. health departments, Dr. Nau said.
Once the vaccine arrives in Colorado, it will go out to roughly 10 predetermined distribution sites, followed by distribution under the direction of the state health department. Also worth noting is the total number of vaccines received in the state will be cut in half, since every vaccine recipient needs a booster shot about three weeks after receiving the first vaccine dose.
“I’m very excited about the prospects of a vaccine,” said Dr. Nau. “What I hope is that we get a huge percentage of the population that accepts the vaccine and I hope people understand we need to continue with the masking and distancing for a while yet. When you’re immunizing a few million people here and there, all the usual public health protocols need to remain in place.”
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