Kansas health officials say state is ‘on the cusp’ of having safe vaccine, after Pfizer releases new data

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — As coronavirus cases are on the rise across the state, state health officials are preparing for the next steps, which include the distribution of a potential vaccine.

Pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, announced Monday morning that data from its COVID-19 vaccine trial proved it was more than 90% effective in treating people with no prior signs of the coronavirus infection.

“Any vaccine that is able to prevent more than 90% of those from being infected, or having severe illness from the disease is a very valuable vaccine,” said Phil Griffin, Director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Pfizer developed the vaccine with German drug maker, BioNTech. The pharmaceutical company plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month. The FDA requires two more months of safety data before taking the next steps.

If all goes well, Pfizer will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 million to 20 million people, according to executives at the company.

As the vaccine awaits approval from the FDA, state health officials said they will take the proper safety precautions before distributing it to the public.

“We will be listening and watching to what those scientists are telling us about the safety of the vaccine and who should be vaccinated, and when they should be vaccinated,” Griffin said.

In the meantime, state health officials will continue to meet with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to receive updates and feedback on the statewide vaccine distribution plan, so they can develop the best strategy.

The CDC has commended the state on its “readiness” for distributing a vaccine, according to Griffin. This includes the state’s plan to implement an external advisory committee to make sure that each person has an equal opportunity to be treated.

“That will help us look at equity, and all those kinds of issues, to make sure that we’re not only addressing those with greatest needs, but that we’re also doing it in a very fair and equitable way,” Griffin added when speaking about the state’s current plan.

Health care workers and the most vulnerable populations will be the first to receive the vaccine once its distributed.

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