How does vaccine distribution work?

At the individual level, how will this mass vaccination effort work?

The first few rounds of people to get vaccinated will be health-care workers, some essential jobs, and higher-risk individuals including the elderly. Health-case workers will be coordinated by their employers, but what about the rest? Will my elderly parents’ doctors contact them to schedule it? Do they make an appointment?

Fauci has predicted we start vaccinating the population at large in April, May, or June. Will people just show up and wait in long lines? Are there less-restrictive requirements each week, like today it’s anyone over 60, next week anyone over 55, etc.?

I assume these are the things that a competent administration would be planning right now. Are there standard practices or procedures we followed in the past for things like polio?

I would imagine that it’ll work much like flu shots - employers and health care providers will manage / provide that.

So initially, it’ll be health care provider companies providing it to their own workers, along with employers like cities/states/counties providing it to their first-responders and other essential employees. Later on, they’ll have a vaccine event and offer it to their public facing employees, and then finally a third round, where they’ll offer it to their accountants, system admins, and other non-public facing employees and their families.

I’d think the elderly/high risk would work similarly- it’ll be through health care institutions and providers- possibly they’ll even call people and suggest they come in for visits.

As for the scheduling, I don’t know that it’s been worked out yet even in broad strokes, other than the large-scale categories.

I agree that i doubt a lot of work has been done on the details. But i expect we will have “vaccine drives”, at least while the available vaccines require fussy storage.

Your local pharmacy will advertise that it will have 1000 doses available on April 19th. Sign up here. Priority to people in these categories, within each category, first to sign up gets first dibs.

That sound quite chaotic. Doesn’t it make better sense for it to be managed by health care providers, with managed lists of patients rather a bunfight at the pharmacy?

I’m expecting (at least here in the UK), that it will be managed by GPs in the same way that flu shots are. So, for example, a few weeks ago I got a text message inviting me to get a flu shot. My aging parents had one ages ago, so presumably they’d just got round to me (no major health issues, but mild asthma).

I’ve read that there are plans to make it be drive-through, much like testing. The person in charge in Maine is considering signing up car washes, because they are heated, so the vaccination workers won’t have to stand outside in parkas.

I agree that healthcare workers and first responders will likely go first, organized through their employers. It would make sense to coordinate the next wave via large employers – preferably the largest that have workers primarily onsite: meat packers, etc., grocery stores, warehouses, shipping companies, etc.

I’m wondering too which vaccines will be available. I assume in the initial stages, it will just be whatever is made available for the event you are able to sign up for – no choice of which vaccine.

Car washes seem problematic. Lot of machinery to get out of the way. Some drive through testing sites I’ve seen have been using indoor parking lots at malls or office buildings. Those aren’t very full nowadays.

I’ve never seen a heated mall parking structure. Are they heated where you are? I didn’t know car washes were heated, either, but that’s what the article said.

I’m not saying those are viable – it’s just what this Maine official is looking at.

I do think vaccinations will be drive through. My guess is more of whatever’s being used for testing. Tents in parking lots. Maybe closed down businesses that have drive-through windows?

Some are heated, some underground. Still, I’d think with some portable heaters, it would massively better to have the extra space and proper traffic lanes you’d get in a parking garage. You could have a line up of cars indoors so staff could do pre-shot interviews down the line, multiple parking spots for getting the shot.

But yeah, not everywhere has those kind of spaces.

Yeah, that makes sense if they’re available.

Another thing is that so far, the vaccines all require two shots. So signing up will require two time slots a couple of weeks apart.

I have no idea how that could work. Lots of people don’t even have PCPs. Are they just not in line at all? And different physicians have vastly different patient loads. Mine PDP doesn’t have nearly enough patients to use up a batch of vaccine, for instance.

I would hope that it is organized by priorities in some way to keep it from being a free for all. I’d be fine with waiting longer if the people ahead of me have higher risk of exposure, or greater risk of harm. If it turns into just a matter of waiting in line for hours, or something similar, I might be more annoyed about having to wait.

Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about. The people who have the time and ability to wait in line are probably the lowest priority.

In the breaking news thread, there was a point about needing enough people who can give the vaccinations.

I wonder if volunteers or temp workers can be trained up to do it. It’s not difficult to give an IM shot. Perhaps there could be a crew of volunteers and a small number of medical pros who can be called on if there’s anything unusual or difficult that comes up. I’d consider volunteering – I’ve given myself and my spouse IM shots, and it was easy. (I acknowledge that there could be difficulties from time to time, hence the suggestion to have medical pros available.)

Personnel anecdote, so YMMV, take with a grain of salt, etc…

I was speaking with a friend who works for one of the major US shipping companies. He said they’re currently working with the military to get a plan in place to distribute vaccines. He said they frequently work with the military shipping sensitive items around the world and made it sound like there were actually adults in charge of the logistics. Hopefully the Trump administration doesn’t try to “improve” the process.

I hope the vaccines are prioritized internationally so that some people in every country will be vaccinated before every person is vaccinated in some (rich) countries.

IOW, vaccination will be most effective if high-priority/high-risk people are vaxxed in every country before non-HP/HR people are vaxxed anywhere.

In this way the average healthy 30 year-old in rich countries (e.g. USA) will have to wait until all frontline workers and highest risk elderly are vaxxed in Namibia and the Congo.

This will not make healthy, non-elderly Americans and Europeans very happy. Especially the ones who have been behaving as if they don’t need a vaccine anyway because they’re immortal and and/or the virus is a hoax.

The retired elderly have the time and ability to wait in line and are also high risk (because of their age and illnesses).

Another issue is the extreme refrigeration that might be required (depending on which vaccine they’re using). They can only store this vaccine in specialized units, which do not exist all over the place. And once the vaccine is taken out of extreme low temperatures, it has a short shelf life.

Last I heard, the Pfizer one can last a day in the fridge, the Moderna one (which can be held in a more normal freezer temp of -20) lasts 3 days. Getting the Pfizer one to less populated areas sounds pretty tough.

I would imagine that the more temperature-sensitive ones, like Pfizer, would go to health-care workers and distributed at hospitals, or to the most at-risk patients in settings like retirement homes. Even if they don’t have the freezers needed, they’d still be able to distribute doses to those limited circumstances pretty quickly. Just about everyone involved could be brought in fairly quickly. (“General Hospital staff, assemble in the cafeteria for your shots on this day during this allotted time.” “Residents of Shady Oaks Rest Home will receive their shots with their other medications on such-and-so day.”
Something like that.)
The less centralized nodes could get some of the other vaccines, possibly a bit later on, that can sit for a while in a regular fridge.