ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — We are getting a closer look at Florida's preliminary vaccination plan as several companies push to have one approved and distributed.
The state's plan, obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows how Florida plans to approach vaccine distribution, implementation, decision making and lessons learned.
The CDC will now work to conduct a review of the draft plans and provide feedback within the next two weeks.
It is important to note, both the CDC and Department of Health share that this is not the final plan and it will be updated "as the response shifts due to known variables such as vaccine allocations, vaccine shipment dates, and changes in priority populations."
But, as it stands, here is what you can expect.
How the DOH made its plan
According to the submitted plan, the DOH is approaching its COVID-19 vaccination plan using an "integrated planning structure based on lessons learned from the H1N1 pandemic, seasonal influenza vaccination activities and the recent Hepatitis A vaccination program."
Meaning, the existing plans from those vaccination campaigns and after-action reports were reviewed for key lessons. Those lessons then served as the framework for the COVID-19 vaccination plan.
Those key lessons include:
- Simplifying and streamlining the enrollment in an effort to expedite and expand vaccine providers
- Expanding existing plans to better support vaccination activities
- Increasing the inclusion of community partners to provide vaccinators
- Expediting timelines of reporting vaccine administration data
- Including individuals and partners with various areas of expertise
To help test this plan the DOH says it will be using seasonal flu vaccination activities to test for the administration of the coronavirus vaccine. All 67 counties' health departments will have done that by Dec. 1, 2020.
"The exercises will focus on increasing daily vaccinations, implementing social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation measures into logistical planning for mass vaccination clinics, and expand use of personal protective equipment," the plan states.
Areas of success and improvement will be identified during the exercises.
How it's planning for vaccine administration
The Department is using an "Incident Command Structure" made of representatives and subject matter experts from several groups spanning the immunizations program, epidemiology, EMS, long-term care associations and more.
This group is focused on completing specific tasks in preparation of vaccination "activities" and administration for the following areas:
- Long-term care facilities
- First responders
- Critical infrastructure personnel
- CHD Mass Vaccination Clinics
- State Mass Vaccination Clinics
- Expanded traditional vaccine providers and retail providers
Bi-weekly conference calls with representation from local, state and federal agencies and sub-group meetings will drive the overall planning of these groups.
To help guide them, groups are using several methods including surveys sent to hospitals, pharmacies, CHDs, and EMS organizations. In addition to integrating tribal communities into the planning process.
Here are all the target groups the Department of Health is working on vaccination efforts with:
- Correctional and detention facilities
- Homeless shelters
- Community-based organizations
- Long-term care facilities
- Public safety agencies
The state's phased approach
When the time comes, Floridians needing a COVID-19 vaccine will receive it in a 3-tier phased approach.
Phase 1: "Potentially limited dose availability"
According to the Department of Health, under a projected limited supply, it would provide vaccines to those considered a priority first.
Priority areas have been identified as hospitals, long-term care staff and residents, first responders and those in critical infrastructure.
"As additional vaccine becomes available, administration will expand to other priority groups in closed point of dispensing (POD) settings as directed by the CDC," the plan states.
Phase 2: "Large number of doses available, supply likely to meet demand"
As more vaccines become available, providers like pediatricians, pharmacies and primary care providers will receive doses, according to the DOH.
The Department also finds it likely that the CHDs will open public mass vaccination clinics and the state would do something similar. Why? To ensure there is an "equitable distribution" of the vaccine to the public.
Phase 3: "Likely sufficient supply, slowing demand"
Once the vaccine supply is high and the demand is considered low, the state says it will transition to providing vaccines to the public by routine health care delivery systems, such as commercial pharmacies. During this phase it predicts the CHDs will continue to offer vaccine clinics.
Who is likely to be considered a priority
Again, the "Florida COVID-19 Vaccination Plan" has not yet been finalized and is anticipated to change over time. As is who is considered a priority, as the Department says the status is reliant on a few things.
"Prioritization of vaccine recipients is not yet determined by the CDC. Priority groups may vary based on the vaccine that is ultimately approved, vaccine availability and the groups it is authorized for," it wrote.
Though, based on current guidance, the DOH expects those considered a priority to include:
- Health care personnel
- Essential workers
- Those with medical conditions placing them at high-risk for COVID-19 complications
- Adults who are 65 years of age, or older
Now, we know that is a lot of information to take in. If you want to learn more or sort through the preliminary details yourself you can do so here.
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