While we're still awaiting confirmation of an effective vaccine for COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health has given an idea of how it will be distributed when one is available.
During Tuesday's media call, MDH Director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division Kris Ehresmann laid out the likely process by which the vaccine will be sent out, with the aim of prioritizing those most at risk.
One of the key points that Ehresmann made is that irrespective of a resident's situation, the vaccine will be available at zero cost to patients.
With the virus taking a particularly deadly toll on the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, the vaccine will be given first to those at greatest risk of death or suffering severe complications from the virus – which will include those living in long-term care facilities.
Also first in line for the vaccine will be essential workers and critical employees, which will include healthcare workers and long-term care staff who have been on the frontlines of the battle with COVID.
Ehresmann noted that one of the challenges with any approved vaccine will be encouraging as many people as possible to take it at a time when misinformation abounds, and after a period of years in which the anti-vaccination movement has grown more prominent.
While definitive dates on when vaccines will become available remains unknown – with some experts suggesting widespread availability might not occur till late 2021 – preliminary data from two major U.S.-based vaccine trials, by Moderna and Pfizer, are expected in the coming weeks.
The Washington Post meanwhile reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is "laying the groundwork" for its deliberations of whether the recommend a vaccine for use.