DOH issues updated COVID-19 vaccination plan

An updated COVID-19 vaccination plan announced today by the state Department of Health now breaks down the distribution of the vaccine into two phases.

The prioritized system ensures the vaccine is distributed and administered in an orderly, safe and efficient manner, starting with prioritized groups based on updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a DOH news release states.

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According to the DOH, the department submitted its initial draft vaccination plan to the CDC in mid-October. The initial draft included input from local, state and federal agencies as well as private-sector partners.

“We are continuing to devote our full attention to ensuring we have a robust and orderly rollout of our vaccination program,” state Health Director Dr. Libby Char said in the release. “We’ve integrated the ACIP’s allocation and prioritization recommendations into our updated plan to reach those in high-risk groups as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“Our plan prioritizes the vaccine for those who come into direct contact with the virus and those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 infections, and disability or death,” Char continued. “The safe and orderly rollout ensures we operate efficiently to minimize waste of the dosages and to enhance patient safety.”

According to the DOH, the first phase has three components:

• Phase 1a — health care personnel and long-term care facility residents, estimated to be 6% of the state’s population;

• Phase 1b — frontline essential workers and adults over 75, about 20% of the state’s population;

• Phase 1c — adults 65-74, people ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers not included in phase 1b, about 47% of the state’s population.

According to the DOH, the second phase will cover the rest of the population, which includes everyone 16 and older not included in previous categories.

The second phase is projected to begin in early summer, depending on production and federal allocation of vaccines, the DOH said.

The phases of distribution may occur concurrently. In each phase, the order in which the vaccines will be administered will be based on age, with the eldest in the phase receiving first priority.

According to the DOH, however, the updated plans also includes a number of contingencies.

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For example, vaccines may be redistributed if there are significant outbreaks or clusters, priority groups may include others if deemed necessary to limit the spread of disease, and vaccines may be distributed to populations prioritized by disease activity in geographical location, disproportionately affected communities and health and socioeconomic vulnerabilities.

To read the executive summary of the updated vaccination plan, visit bit.ly/VaccinePlanHI.

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