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September 28, 2020

What We Know About the Vaccine Distribution Process in SC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will oversee vaccine distribution in the United States. The CDC will do so through a network of vaccine providers, each of which will be required to sign a Vaccine Provider Agreement and follow detailed procedures for distributing the vaccine and reporting back to the CDC. The CDC does not currently have a date for approval and distribution of the first vaccines, but they are close enough that they are organizing the provider network and logistics for delivery and distribution. The best information we have so far indicates vaccines will be made available in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Limited vaccine doses will be available by early November 2020 for specific populations (workers who provide healthcare and essential functions of society, plus staff and residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities).
  • Phase 2: A large number of doses will be available, likely enough to meet demand.
  • Phase 3: Excess supply of vaccine available for routine, continued vaccinations.

We do not have timeframes for these phases, but states are required to demonstrate operational readiness by November 1, 2020. Facts worth noting:

  • It’s not yet clear whether the vaccines will be approved by the FDA as licensed vaccines or authorized under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
  • There are 6 vaccine types currently in mass production for release within 24 hours of EUA or licensure.
  • Cold chain requirements vary: some vaccines require only refrigeration; others will have to be frozen to -20 degrees Celsius and at least one will require ultra-cold storage (-80 degrees Celsius).
  • Five of the six vaccines will require 2 doses, separated by either 21 or 28 days.
  • Vaccines are not interchangeable.
  • Vaccines will be made available to providers at no cost.
  • There are no pediatric considerations at this time.

South Carolina does not currently know when we might receive the vaccine or the quantities that will be made available to our state. Current statewide efforts are focused on the logistics of vaccine distribution and delivery. The SC Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) is also establishing an advisory group to help develop a vaccine prioritization process, and SCHA will be represented along with many other DHEC partner organizations.