Indiana continues to plan for vaccine delivery, even though none has been approved

Indiana health officials have identified five hospitals that will get the initial shipment of the first COVID-19 vaccine available, if and when one is approved for use.

“We continue to prepare for the possibility that limited vaccines will arrive in Indiana yet this month,” state health commissioner Dr. Kris Box said on Wednesday during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly press briefing.

No vaccine has yet been approved by federal regulators, and it’s possible that a vaccine won’t be available for many months. But health officials here say experimental vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna are closest to being approved, and are already being manufactured for shipment.

Indiana officials do not know how much they will receive of either drug, although they expect supplies to be limited at the beginning. Indiana officials first said two weeks ago they were told that shipments could be imminent, although it remains unclear whether a vaccine is even close to being approved by federal regulators.

Pfizer’s vaccine is still in late-stage clinical trials and is being tested on more than 40,000 people. The vaccine requires two doses about 28 days apart and must be stored at minus-70 degrees. The company said Monday that a preliminary review of trials showed the vaccine is effective more than 90% of the time, but the company has yet to publish any study findings in a scientific journal.

Pfizer also said it expects to apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration later this month. The designation allows unapproved medical products to be used in emergencies when there are no available alternatives.

Box said a second experimental vaccine, made by Moderna, could arrive in Indiana by the end of the year if it is approved for emergency use. The company is testing the vaccine in 30,000 people, but has not yet announced any results.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Indiana’s chief medical officer, said Wednesday that the vaccines will initially be stored at five hospitals: Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Community Hospital in Munster, Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville, Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, and Parkview Health in Fort Wayne.

“Nearly 50 additional hospitals across the state have raised their hands and are able to help administer the vaccine to front-line staff and health care workers in their communities,” Weaver said.

The Indiana Department of Health is also making plans with drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens to administer the drugs to health care workers across the state.

“We know that a widely used vaccine is still months away,” Weaver said. “But we are confident that starting with protecting front-line health care workers and those at highest risk will reduce the burden of COVID-19 on Hoosiers.

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