Medical expert explains COVID-19 vaccine distribution


ONALASKA, Wis. (WXOW) – Hospitals, health departments, and pharmacies around the state applied to work as “hubs” to help administer COVID-19 vaccinations once they’re approved.

Health care workers, first responders long-term care facilities staff, and residents will have the first option to take the emergency use vaccination as it gets distributed.

“I think it’s the start of what people might say is the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” Gundersen Health System’s vaccine expert Dr. Raj Naik said. “But it’s going to take a while and I want people to realize that this is not like turning on a light switch. It’s not vaccines that save lives it’s actually vaccinating people.”

Dr. Naik and other medical experts are triple checking scientific data behind Pfizer and Moderna vaccines before approving the drugs fully. Though manufacturing and financing both vaccines was expedited, the scientific process was not. The two vaccines will wait for administration once the scientific data can fully support that it’s effective and safe.

“All of those things are working right now with the thought process that we could have our first vaccine approved as early as next week or within the next couple of weeks,” Dr. Naik said.

Leading Age of Wisconsin does legislative work for long-term care facilities throughout the state and advocated that residents be a part of the first waive of vaccinations.

“Wisconsinites can do this if we band together to be safe and have those safe practices and when the vaccine is available to take it,” Leading Age of Wisconsin President and CEO John Sauer said. “We move closer to the resumption of normal visiting practices in long term care facilities if we have our staff and residents vaccinated.”

“It also is going to require that people trust that the vaccines are safe and effective,” Dr. Naik said. “As the information comes out that’s going to be really important for us who are experts in vaccines and all of the other health care providers that will be administering vaccines is to gain that trust by making sure we understand the information and can relate it in a way that people can understand.”

Sauer said Wisconsin will most likely get 50,000 Pfizer vaccines followed soon after by Moderna. Both of the vaccines require two doses with 21-to-28 days between doses and Dr. Naik said it takes a few weeks after the second dose for someone to gain immunity.

Doctors work with the government to formulate the vaccine plans through online meetings called the “State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee” in which anyone participating in public comments here.

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