The race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has most people wondering when it will be available. It seems we’re getting closer to a solution now, so the question is shifting to distribution.
This article covers how we expect distribution plays out and also how you can prepare for a vaccine.
A Change of Focus
The medical community sees vaccines as the silver bullet that will stop the novel coronavirus in its tracks. Unfortunately, vaccine research is somewhat unpredictable and takes months to complete. Thankfully, current efforts are starting to look more promising. We don’t know the exact timeline, but estimates range from the end of this year to the middle of next year.
Many people are asking not just “when will we develop a vaccine?” but also “how will we distribute it?” Developing vaccines is incredibly complicated, but distributing them is also a challenging endeavor. We would like to provide some insight into how we expect things to play out. We hope that this gives you a sense of security and helps you to plan ahead.
One Stage at a Time
Vaccine creators will ramp up production as quickly as possible once the necessary parties can approve a formula. However, current CDC and government guidelines suggest that distribution will happen in stages until there are doses for everyone. That’s unlikely with even the most aggressive production targets. We anticipate that medical personnel will distribute the vaccine in stages over several months until more doses are available.
Those most at risk will naturally be first in line for the vaccine. Medical workers (especially those in direct contact with COVID-19 patients) and national security officials will receive access right away. Other essential workers, and those considered at high risk, will come next. For example, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions can expect to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. This will require a coordinated and sophisticated distribution effort.
What will Vaccine Distribution Look Like?
The vaccine distribution process should look pretty familiar to anyone who has received a flu shot. The vaccine will most likely be available at centralized locations. This is partially because the most prominent vaccines currently being tested all need to be kept in a refrigerated container. That requirement means it’s unlikely providers will be able to ship a vaccine directly to homes. Instead, the specialized equipment already in place to distribute the flu vaccine could be leveraged to deliver the coronavirus vaccine. Individuals will likely need to visit local drug stores, hospitals, or temporary administration locations (often set up in the parking lots of private businesses) to receive the vaccine.
In many ways, the distribution will look a lot like the COVID-19 tests we’ve seen so far. Those sites have been set up in locations like Rite-Aid drive-throughs and Wal-Mart parking lots. Those who wish to receive a vaccine will need to make appointments, especially early on when we are prioritizing the most vulnerable members of the population.
How to Make a Plan
We’re getting closer to a vaccine, but likely won’t see one right away. And, even if we do, vaccine distribution will take time. We advise you to plan on COVID-19 being a factor for the next few months at minimum. If you are waiting for a vaccine before considering a life change (such as retiring), we recommend that you prepare to wait 3-6 more months. If you were hoping that a vaccine would help us beat the pandemic before we get very far into 2021, you may want to reconsider that timeline.
We also believe that everyone can benefit from making some type of plan. Planning ahead, as we recently explored, is always worthwhile, even in a world with unpredictable elements like the timing of a vaccine approval. Perfectly accurate predictions are hard to make, but general expectations are rarely totally wrong. The vaccine that many people are looking forward to is no different: making a plan puts you one step ahead and helps you avoid being reactionary. We hope that this overview of the situation has helped you get a handle on what’s around the corner.
For the most up-to-date information from the CDC, visit their website at www.cdc.gov.
To learn how Ashton Place is handling the COVID-19 pandemic, give us a call at 315-462-3140.