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Idaho vaccine dose reduction has ‘significant implications’

December 18, 2020 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An unexpected cut in the number of coronavirus vaccine doses Idaho will receive next week will disrupt distribution plans, a state immunization official said Friday.

State Department of Health and Welfare Immunization Program Manager Sarah Leeds said that the state had expected 17,550 but will only get 9,750.

“That has some pretty significant implications for our vaccination program,” Leeds said during a meeting of the Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee.

State officials have detailed plans for distributing the vaccine, and will now have to recalibrate. Health officials said the reason for the reduced amount isn’t clear.

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Leeds said the state has received all 13,950 doses they expected this week. Nearly 1,000 people have been vaccinated so far. Healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients are receiving the initial doses.

The vaccine Idaho has received so far is from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Officials during the meeting said the state could get another 28,000 doses from a different company next week.

The Food and Drug Administration was evaluating a shot developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health and was expected to give it the green light soon, clearing the way for its use to begin as early as Monday.

Moderna’s vaccine is easier to handle, since it does not need to be kept at ultra-frozen temperatures like the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. Both require two doses for full protection.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said the virus has infected more than 126,000 residents and killed 1,259.

The Vaccine Advisory Committee has set up a priority list for groups of people to get the vaccine. On Friday, the committee made some slight shifts in the priority for workers getting the vaccine.

In general, healthcare workers who come in direct contact with COVID-19 patients are followed on the list by outpatient staff essential for maintaining hospital capacity. Others high on the list include staff at long-term care facilities, home-care providers, and emergency medical responders.

Residents of long-term care facilities are also in the initial category of those receiving the shots. Older adults are much more susceptible to serious illness or death from the virus.

The next category eligible to get the vaccine is essential workers. That category leads off with firefighters and police, followed by school teachers and daycare workers.

Prison workers, workers in the food processing industry, and workers at grocery stores and convenience stores are also on that list.