Federal approval of the second coronavirus vaccine means more doses are coming to Washington and with them a growing interest about the distribution of vaccines.
This week, Washington was set to receive 130,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which was approved by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup on Sunday after having been awarded emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.
Some of the first Moderna doses were delivered to the Seattle Indian Health Board Monday, where members of the executive team were vaccinated to demonstrate its safety and effectiveness.
Getting the vaccine to every corner of the state and getting it into the arms of everyone who wants it is a logistical and messaging challenge for public health officials.
This week for FAQ Friday, we answer questions about how people will know when it is their turn to be vaccinated and whether pregnant women should be vaccinated for the virus.
How will people know when they can get the vaccine?
Vaccinating the population against coronavirus is a herculean task that requires state and public health officials to prioritize vaccinations and decide who to inoculate as more vaccine becomes available.
Currently, only high-risk health care workers and residents and employees at long-term care facilities are being vaccinated. The state Department of Health (DOH) is working to finalize its vaccine allocation and list of where state residents fall on the prioritization list.
“This framework is informed by national guidelines and guided by feedback from the communities, partners, sectors and industries that are heavily impacted by COVID-19 in Washington state,” Franji Mayes, a DOH spokesperson, wrote in an email.
The prioritization list will be posted on DOH’s website when it is finished, Mayes said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a tool for smartphones to remind people when they are due for their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. A web address to get started with the program is provided in the vaccine information sheet given to those receiving their first doses.
Do people have a choice between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines?
There are a number of coronavirus vaccines being developed. Moderna’s vaccine received emergency regulatory approval last week, making two vaccines available.
Because there are only two vaccines available, most facilities with vaccines are following the CDC and DOH guidelines to vaccinate what is being called the 1a group. This initial group includes residents and employees at long-term care facilities and health care workers who are at high risk of contracting the virus.
These restrictions limiting choice could last for weeks or months, but that could change as supplies increase, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Should women who are trying to become pregnant, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, be vaccinated?
While there aren’t studies about pregnancy and the coronavirus vaccine because none of the clinical trials included pregnant women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant and lactating women who want the vaccine have the option of receiving it.
The ACOG recommends pregnant women discuss the vaccine with their health care providers. Those who become pregnant in between doses she should still get the second dose.
Other things to consider, according to the ACOG:
- There currently is no preference between the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, other than that the latter is available to 16- and 17-year-olds.
- Pregnant women who get one of the coronavirus vaccines should delay getting other vaccinations, like for the flu or Tdap, for 14 days after the second coronavirus shot.