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Preparations underway at local health systems after news of a ’90-percent effective’ vaccine


APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Drugmaker Pfizer says its vaccine was more than 90-percent effective in preventing COVID-19. That’s based on initial data from a large study group.

The company said it has so far found no serious safety concerns and expects to apply for emergency authorization later this month.

If US authorities agree, it will take time for vaccine doses to be available to the public.

With the major announcement, local health care systems say they’re already deep into planning for distribution.

Health officials with Prevea and UW Oshkosh say they’ve already started planning and are excited because an end to this virus may be in sight.

Just last week US Surgeon General Jerome Adams announced in Oshkosh that an end to this pandemic is very close.

“Recognizing that we have five vaccines now in phase three trials, which is the last step. We still feel confident that we will have a vaccine by the end of 2020. Now that is going to depend on the companies.”

Now Pfizer has announced its COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective against the coronavirus.

Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO, Prevea Health says, “That percentage is better than any of us would hope for. If you look at a standard influenza vaccine — 40 to 50 sometimes 60 percent efficacy. In other words, you get a flu shot it works half the time. We’re talking about getting a shot that works almost all the time.”

So vaccine preparations are underway at Prevea health care organization but not without a few snags.

Dr. Rai says, “The number one hurdle that all of us have to go through right now is the storage of the vaccine because of the temperature it needs to be kept at and this depends on which one we’re talking about but some need to be at what’ s called a super chilled or really low temperature.”

Densely populated settings, like UW Oshkosh, say they’re also into the preparation stages.

Karen Sanchez, Director of Student Health at UW Oshkosh says, “We’re hoping that we will be selected to be one of the providers in the vaccination program for COVID-19. In an evening, a two-hour session, we could give several hundred. So it would just depend on if we get a large amount.

Another concern for vaccine distribution — who will be first in line?

Dr. Rai says, “Likely it’s going to be people on the front line that are necessary to care for the covid workers, sorry covid patients. So workers will get vaccinated first. Then those most at risk such as in nursing home situations would be the next.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health says in its executive summary that it would administer the vaccine in three phases –with the first phase going to essential workers and elderly.

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