Distribution of Second Vaccine Begins in Wisconsin

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By: 
Michelle Phillips

WISCONSIN–After the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use approval (EUA) of the Moderna vaccine, the second in as many weeks, on Dec. 18, Wisconsin is poised to 101,000 doses this week.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, approved on Dec. 11, the Moderna vaccine can be handled like other vaccines and does not require extreme cold temperatures. It will be distributed directly to health care providers rather than follow a hub and spoke model of distribution which is the distribution model for the Pfizer vaccine.

In spite of reports of several allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine, inoculations continued around the country, including Wisconsin. Though the company has told recipients with reactions not to get a second dose of the vaccine.

According to the CDC report “The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Use of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine-United States, December 2020,” the efficacy rate after the second injection is 94.1 percent after a two-month follow-up. Efficacy rates are similar for the Pfizer vaccine at 95 percent.

Allergic reactions to the vaccine both in trials and public vaccinating have shown the percentage affected is small, approximately one percent. Symptoms can vary from redness and swelling at the injection site to anaphylaxis.

In a call with reporters on Monday, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk confirmed that the state received 49, 725 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first week but would only receive 35,100 each week until further notice. The state had planned to receive about 50,000 doses per week but found that the number was an estimate. She said at 50,000 doses a week, it would have taken about 10 weeks to vaccinate all the of phase 1A, which includes health care works and long-term care facilities. The number of Moderna vaccines expect in the state this week was set at 101,000, and the first doses began arriving on Monday.

Willems Van Dijk said the vaccines are received on a rotating distribution model, with doses ordered and sent each week. She added that she expects a smaller and more regular cadence of the Moderna vaccine.

She admitted that the first week of distribution was slow going and said that there is a learning curve with the massive undertaking of vaccinating for COVID-19. 

“There’s tons of info and we’re working on the best ways to communicate with all parties,” she said.

She also confirmed that in many cases workers administering the vaccines have been able to get an extra dose from each vial. She said the FDA has confirmed that it is acceptable to use the extra doses as long as they are full doses and come from the same vial. 

Willems Van Dijk said that there had been reports of the virus mutating in the United Kingdom, but there was no reason at this point to believe that the vaccine is not effective against it. Although, because there is no longitudinal data on the virus and vaccine, it is hard to know how the mutations will play out or whether a booster shot will be needed after the two initial vaccine doses are administered. 

She also reported that an antibody treatment area had been set up at the Alternative Care Facility (ACF) in West Allis and was slated to open this week. The treatment is much like Tamiflu, inhibiting the virus in its early stages, according to Willems Van Dijk, and can lessen the symptoms of COVID-19 if given at the onset of infection.

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