As Drug Makers Sprint Toward FDA Approval, Texas Moves To Decide Who Will Get COVID Vaccines First

A state panel recommends that 1.6 million workers in health care and related fields get top priority.

By Jill Ament & Shelly BrisbinNovember 30, 2020 2:10 pm,

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Saturday that a COVID vaccine may be only days away from distribution in Texas. And on Monday morning, the pharmaceutical company Moderna announced it plans to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, for authorization of its COVID vaccine.

Bob Garrett is Austin bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News. He told Texas Standard that an advisory panel has developed a set of priorities for distribution of the Prizer vaccine in Texas. Workers in a broad swath of health care-related jobs will be among the first to receive it. Garret said the group include some 1.6 million Texans who do everything from patient care to acting as school nurses.

Garrett says potential vaccine recipients have been organized into tiers by the Texas advisory panel, which is set to meet again this week to further refine its recommendations for how to distribute vaccines once health workers have received it.

“Basically, those who can’t work remotely, and have to show up for work – whether it’s stocking grocery shelves, or first responders – those people are going to be next, along with some of the vulnerable populations in nursing homes and long-term care facilities,” Garrett said. 

To distribute the vaccine, Garrett says the federal government has forged agreements with several grocery and pharmacy chains. And health care workers have volunteered to administer the vaccines. He said 6,300 sites across the country are signed up to provide the vaccine so far. 

Pfizer has already applied to the FDA for an emergency use authorization that would allow the company’s vaccine to be distributed. Moderna’s vaccine is about a week behind Pfizer’s in the process, Garrett said. 

“If the FDA approves [Pfizer’s] authorization, the federal government is ready to go within a day,” Garrett said.

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