The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. The plan was developed in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Defense (DoD), and is communicated through two documents: a report to Congress providing a strategic overview of the distribution strategy and “an interim playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local public health programs and their partners on how to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions.”
According to the report to Congress, the four major tenets of HHS’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan are:
- Continue to engage with state, tribal, territorial, and local partners, other stakeholders, and the public to communicate public health information around the vaccine and promote vaccine confidence and uptake.
- Distribute vaccines immediately upon granting of Emergency Use Authorization/Biologics License Application, using a transparently developed, phased allocation methodology.
- Ensure safe administration of the vaccine and availability of administration supplies.
- Monitor necessary data from the vaccination program through an information technology system capable of supporting and tracking distribution, administration, and other necessary data.
Once the Food and Drug Administration authorizes (through an Emergency Use Authorization) or approves a vaccine (through a Biologics License Application), the CDC will provide recommendations on prioritizing who should receive the initial doses. McKesson Corporation, under federal contract, will then coordinate with DoD to ship the vaccine to pharmacies and other administration sites.
“ASHP applauds HHS, CDC, and DoD for communicating its vaccine distribution strategy well in advance of the availability of any vaccine,” said Tom Kraus, ASHP vice president of government relations. “Pharmacists and pharmacies are part of the critical infrastructure necessary for a successful COVID-19 vaccine strategy, and we are pleased to see that reflected in the strategy along with its emphasis on collaboration with state and local public health partners and the focus on utilizing pharmacists to speed vaccine delivery. We are also encouraged that many of the themes in the documents released today reflect priorities outlined in ASHP’s COVID-19 Vaccine Principles. We look forward to continuing to work with agencies to ensure a successful and equitable mass immunization campaign.”
ASHP will provide a full summary and analysis of HHS’s distribution plan in the coming days. Because many elements of the strategy are still in process, including determinations regarding who receives the initial doses of vaccine, ASHP will regularly update members as more information becomes available.