Massachusetts officials will submit their plan for coronavirus vaccine distribution to the federal government Friday, though Gov. Charlie Baker said the process could be “lumpy.”
With 300,000 doses expected to be delivered to the state by the end of the month, Baker has outlined a preliminary plan that prioritizes health care personnel, adults over 65 and those with underlying health conditions and other essential workers to be the first to receive it.
The state’s final plan will be submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Friday.
“The plan is based on a lot of guidance from a pretty important and sophisticated collection of experts in one field or another around the Commonwealth,” Baker said.
With the possibility of a vaccine on the horizon, Baker said again Thursday that there is “some reason for optimism.” But he urged residents to continue taking precautions to prevent the cases from continuing to rise. It will likely be months before the general public can get vaccinated.
“There is still much work ahead to stop the spread of COVID from infecting more people here in Massachusetts,” Baker said. “People need to stay vigilant. We’re not ready to flip the switch to normal.”
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Baker said he joined other governors for a call with officials from the vaccine-development project Operation Warp Speed for a call earlier this week.
“Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from the federal government, we expect — and admittedly we’ll see how this all plays out, the beginning of this will probably be a little lumpy — but we’re expecting to see somewhere around 300,000 doses, by the end of the calendar year,” Baker said.
The Trump administration told governors on Monday to expect the first shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine to begin arriving by mid-December, pending emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
The vaccine developed by Cambridge-based Moderna would be available “shortly after that,” according to Baker, who has also said he did not think his administration would consider mandating vaccinations.
The FDA’s advisory committee will meet on Dec. 10 to consider an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine. The agency has a hearing scheduled Dec. 17 to discuss the Moderna application.
Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines require two doses, which must be administered three to four weeks apart.
The governor said it probably won’t be until the spring that the general population begins to have access to a vaccine, at which point others being developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson could also be available.
“The thing to remember here is, even as the feds get into the business of following through on the distribution program that’s attached to this, it’s going to take awhile before people would literally start finishing the vaccine process itself and start to generate antibodies,” Baker said.
The first coronavirus vaccines could arrive in Massachusetts as early as this month, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday, but it will take time to achieve widespread distribution.
The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be the first to get vaccinated, NBC News reported, after voting on its priority vaccination guidelines during an emergency meeting Tuesday.
States do not have to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control panel, but many are expected to adhere to the general framework. Baker submitted a draft plan to the CDC in October based on the assumption that the state would receive between 20,000 and 60,000 initial doses.
“The focus is going to be on the people we are all the most worried about, right, either because of what they do for work or because of their age or because of their physical condition,” Baker said during a Tuesday press conference.
State House News Service contributed to this report.