We have seen this week a second vaccine developer approach the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of a new vaccine for SARS-CoV2. The race to the starting line has a couple winners, although we expect that more vaccine candidates will reach the stage of FDA review as we go through the winter and into the spring. Now we must focus on the race to the finish line and achieve wide spread community acceptance and vaccination against this scourge. This will require heavy lifting.
EWP believes that the logistical challenges can be met and managed. Transportation in bulk to communities can be achieved with proper cold chain management and logistical management. While the supply chain has shown weakness and vulnerability, vaccine distribution is something with which community health workers and logistical entities have working experience. Many lessons were learned during the H1N1 outbreak that should and hopefully will be applied.
Certainly, this is a bit different in that two doses will be needed for both vaccines now seeking approval (and one can expect this to be true of more traditional vaccine platforms that are to follow). This is manageable with sound records and outreach efforts to assure proper timing and follow through. The cold chain requirements for one of the vaccines are daunting, but can be managed to the Point of Dispensing (POD), where the real cold chain management will be more difficult.
EWP has experience with POD planning, exercising, and field usage and believes that with proper planning and education of staff manning the POD, robust delivery can be achieved. EWP can provide concept of operations, planning guidance, and approaches for both closed PODs (operated for a defined and targeted population such as employees and families of a single company), or open PODs which serve all those who present for vaccination.
The bigger challenge is educating the public and addressing their concerns about safety and efficacy of the vaccines. This requires a national effort, but with targeted community specific focus. Understanding the specific anxieties and reservations of a specific community is the first step and must be actively pursued if an education and outreach is to achieve the broad community acceptance needed to achieve herd immunity. Planning for that is the needed now.