Northam directs $22M to future COVID vaccine program
No timeline on vaccine release has been determined, though
While COVID-19 vaccines have yet to be approved in the United States, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that the state government has earmarked $22 million in federal CARES Act to establish a statewide program to distribute vaccines once they’re ready.
The commonwealth submitted its draft vaccination plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month. Several global and U.S. pharmaceutical companies are working on vaccines, which are expected to be finalized and approved for distribution in “the coming months,” according to Northam’s office.
“We look forward to the day that a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is available for public use, so that we can get closer to living normal lives,” Northam said in a statement. “We want to be ready to help Virginians get that vaccine as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. This funding will support the Virginia Department of Health’s vaccine preparations, so distribution will go more smoothly when a vaccine becomes available.”
The $22 million CARES Act allocation will support the vaccination program the Virginia Department of Health estimates will cost a total of approximately $120 million. Programming costs include equipment purchases, local health district support, staffing, warehousing medical supplies and public communication.
The plan also outlines components for preparing and implementing the vaccination program, including safety and storage guidelines, training measures and establishing vaccine priority groups. Since VDH does not yet know which vaccine will be distributed, it must have several plans in place. Some vaccines may require more than one dose and may have to be stored differently. VDH is also planning for ways to vaccinate large groups of people while social distancing, according to Northam’s office.
“I encourage Virginians to get this vaccine when it is available — that is our best way to end this pandemic,” Northam said in a statement.