Coronavirus

Indiana’s COVID-19 vaccination plan draws on lessons learned from past outbreaks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana has drafted a three-phase plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine to Hoosiers.

A COVID-19 vaccination plan is much different than the yearly seasonal flu vaccination plan because of the urgency to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible. The state is developing a statewide vaccination plan, but there is one important ingredient missing: an approved vaccine.

When a vaccine is approved, the supply is expected to be limited in the beginning. The state and local health departments will vaccinate the most vulnerable to the virus first. Thomas Duszynski of IUPUI’s Richard Fairbanks School of Public Health says the state is drawing from existing vaccine plans, including lessons learned from past outbreaks. 

“So, they basically borrowed that framework and adapted to it,” said Duszynski.

Once the supply of the vaccine becomes more available, and the expectation is there will be multiple vaccines from several different companies, the vaccines will be distributed to local health departments for local distribution and mass vaccination clinics, which will require manpower.

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“Many health departments don’t have the employee capacity to vaccinate that many people all at once, so the plan accounts for how do we get more vaccinators and how can we ask for volunteers? Pharmacists can give vaccines, dentists can give vaccines, retired nurses can give vaccines,” said Duszynski.

Then there is the issue of storage. The state plan calls for high capacity cold storage and a delivery system from a central location to health departments that lack storage capacity.

“The state department of health will be a resource that they can provide that capacity to the local health department if necessary” said Duszynski.

Another component of the plan involves private networks like large pharmacy chains and major retailers for delivering the vaccine to the public. According to the state plan, every Hoosier lives within a 10-mile drive of a major pharmacy or big box retailer.

“It actually speeds up or decreases the amount of time however you want to look at it, of getting the vaccine into people so the more people that are actually giving the vaccine, the faster we can get it into the population and maybe start minimizing this spread and the severe outcomes that come with it,” said Duszynski.

Due to the nature of the virus, the vaccine will most likely require two injections. Of course, the entire plan is contingent upon a vaccine which has not yet been approved.

Another component of the plan is the recruitment of retired health practitioners from the Medical Corp to administer the vaccine.

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