DeLAND, Fla. – The CDC is asking state officials to start preparing for a COVID-19 vaccine distribution as early as November, according to documents obtained by News 6.
A spokesperson with the Florida Division of Emergency Management said it received the guidance from the CDC on August 27. The documents shed more light on how the state is preparing to distribute a coronavirus vaccine.
According to the documents, the CDC said limited vaccines may be available by early November. But Dr. Bruce Rankin with Accel Research Sites said he is not sure it will be ready by then.
“As a scientist and a physician, we want to make sure something is safe and it’s going to work, especially before we start giving it to the general population,” Rankin said.
Rankin is leading the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine study at the DeLand facility. He said more than 900 Central Floridians are participating so far.
He said they are still collecting data. He adds it needs to be analyzed first to make sure a possible vaccine is safe and effective.
“We want to know it was thoroughly tested, it’s thoroughly safe and that it works,” he said.
He said he is hoping for an approved vaccine by the beginning of next year.
But as we wait, the federal government is asking Florida to start planning now. According to the guidance, the CDC is asking state officials to identify “critical populations” to determine who would receive the vaccine first.
Rankin said it will likely be people with the biggest risk of exposure.
“So those first responders, people working in nursing homes, teachers, nurses, doctors working in COVID units,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management sent News 6 a statement that said in part, “Details regarding where the vaccine will be deployed and who will be able to receive the vaccine will be released when we are closer to distribution and know how much vaccine Florida will receive.”
Rankin said this will be a huge undertaking and that is why the state is preparing now.
“Obviously there’s urgency if something is approved that we get as many people as possible vaccinated,” he said.
But he adds they have to do their due diligence before any mass vaccinations.
“The public needs to have confidence in it so they don’t feel like it’s been a rushed process,” Rankin said.