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Health Officials Are Preparing To Administer Covid-19 Vaccines To Health Care Workers, Skilled Nursing Facilities

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The South Florida Sun Sentinel

Gov. Ron DeSantis says once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, local pharmacies have agreed to deploy it to health professionals and skilled nursing facilities.

Dr. Terry Adirim, senior associate dean for clinical affairs and professor of pediatrics at Florida Atlantic University, said people still need to manage expectations. The vaccines are still undergoing review by the FDA.

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The pediatrician said health officials are hoping that by the end of December, 20 million people could be immunized with the 40 million doses available, but in reality “not all 40 million doses are going to be available at the end of December.”

There should be about 5 to 10 million doses produced per week across the country during the month of December.

"So I think this is a really great development. It’s very hopeful,” she told WLRN. “The preliminary data looks really good. So I think if everything goes to plan, we’re going to get our highest priority individuals immunized starting the end of December.”

Adirim said the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a committee within the CDC, is deliberating right now on what the prioritization guidance will be for the states. The states can “tweak the guidance based on their population.” Healthcare workers and skilled nursing facilities will be the first in line.

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Dr. Terry Adirim

“Side effects from a vaccine are typically within the first 60 to 90 days. And the testing that was done was done over that period of time,” she said. “And it appears that there are not serious side effects to the vaccines that have gone through what’s called phase three trials.”

Adirim said government and external experts will ensure “that this data is accurate and valid.”

“There is going to be requirements for monitoring people after they get vaccinated to continue to collect data. So it appears, from a preliminary standpoint, that the vaccines are safe," she said.

She added that the vaccines currently being considered for authorization by the FDA need two doses to be effective. Patients will need a second dose 3 to 4 weeks after the first dose.

Receiving multiple doses of a particular vaccine is common, Adirim said. Three doses of the Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine, or Hib vaccine, for example, is normally given to babies at the early infant stage.

“There are other vaccines like tetanus vaccine where you get vaccinated as a baby but you also need a booster dose when the child is a little bit older,” she said.

At the moment, companies have not done testing yet on young children. She said officials “are currently doing studies of kids down to the age of twelve” but there aren’t studies right now aimed at young children in general.

The FDA, CDC, and other health officials are taking extra steps to look at potential side effects and to ensure the preliminary safety data is accurate, Adirim said — adding that “vaccines in general are safe” and that major side effects “are not that common.”

“It’s so important that we get a good amount of the population immunized so that we can achieve real herd immunity and get back to normal," she said.