Wisconsin Department of Health Services designated the University of Wisconsin Health as a regional distribution hub for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
UW Health will store the vaccines in special freezers to ensure they are kept below -94 degrees Fahrenheit, and will control their distribution to health systems and long term care facilities within the region, according to the UW Health website.
Senior Medical Director of Ambulatory Operations Matthew Anderson said in an email to The Badger Herald that they will not have the ability to control who gets the vaccine.
“The CDC and DHS determine which individuals are eligible to receive vaccines within the Phase 1A distribution process,” Anderson said. “We do not have discretion there.”
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Though, Anderson said the vaccines provided to UW Health for their own use will be allocated as they see fit. As of now, the quantity of vaccinations UW Health will be receiving is unclear, but Anderson said front-line workers will receive top priority.
The UW Health website said another pharmaceutical company called Moderna has also applied for FDA approval of emergency use of their vaccine.
“Because of different storage requirements, DHS is not planning to use [UW Health as] a hub for the Moderna vaccine,” Anderson said.
Anderson also said it is important to note that while this is positive news, the vaccine will not be available for some time. Until it is widely available, all people should continue to follow CDC protocol regarding COVID-19.
Anderson said it is unlikely that any type of vaccine for the general public will be available before the summer.
“In the right circumstances it would be possible for broad availability to occur earlier, but currently it seems to be less likely that it would occur sooner than has been communicated,” Anderson said.