It may be only weeks before local health officials begin vaccinating for COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration will meet on December 10 to review possible emergency use authorization for Pfizer's vaccine.
Health officials are optimistic it will be approved. Moderna and AstraZeneca are expected to follow soon after. The HHS says the distribution of the vaccines could begin within a day of approval.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Nueces County Health Director Annette Rodriguez said her team is currently microplanning mass distribution.
"Microplanning is planning the minute details of how the vaccine will be distributed officially and safely," said Rodriguez.
The Health District will vaccinate healthcare workers first. The distribution is set up in phases with workers positions and vulnerability to infection guiding who among this group will be given the first of two dosages of the vaccine in December.
The healthcare workers listed under Phase 1 A Tier 1 are as follows:
Group 1 includes hospital staff working directly with patients who are positive or at high risk for COVID-19. This includes doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other support staff like custodians and clinical staff.
Group 2 includes long term staff working directly with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes and state-supported living centers.
Group 3 includes EMS providers who engage in 911 emergency services.
Group 4 includes home healthcare workers including hospice care.
Once those groups have received vaccinations, groups in Tier 2 will get their first dosage.
This group consists of the following:
Group 1 is staff in outpatient offices such as doctors, nurses, clinical staff and non 911 transport teams for routine care.
Group 2 is staff at free standing emergency medical centers and urgent care clinics.
Group 3 is community pharmacy staff who provide direct services to clients.
Group 4 is public health and emergency response staff who are directly involved in administering COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
Group 5 is made up of last responders who provide mortuary or death services to decedents. This includes embalmers, funeral home workers and medical examiners.
Group 6 is school nurses.
Depending on which manufacturer/brand a person gets, a second dosage will be required either 21 days or 28 days apart. According to federal health officials, the general public may still be looking at April before getting a first dosage of a vaccine.