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COVID Vaccine Development and Distribution

Last Updated December 29, 2020

The FDA must authorize a vaccine before it can be used in the United States. The CDC recommends vaccines with help from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

On December 11, 2020, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use for active immunization to prevent COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 16 years of age and older.

On December 18, 2020, FDA granted an EUA for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for use for active immunization to prevent COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 18 years of age and older.

To date, CCDPH has received three shipments of the vaccines, two from Pfizer and one from Moderna.

CCDPH will follow CDC and ACIP guidelines to vaccinate the 2.5 million residents in our jurisdiction as quickly and orderly as possible. Our overall strategy is to work with partners to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone in our jurisdiction of suburban Cook County.

  • Currently, clinical trials are evaluating investigational COVID-19 vaccines in many thousands of study participants to generate scientific data and other information for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine their safety and effectiveness.
  • These clinical trials are being conducted according to the rigorous standards set forth by FDA in their June 2020 guidance document, Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19.
  • If FDA determines that a vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standards, it can make these vaccines available for use in the United States by approval or emergency use authorization.
  • After FDA makes its determination, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will review available data before making vaccine recommendations to CDC.
  • The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 18, 2020.
  • The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 11, 2020.
  • AstraZeneca recently submitted data on its vaccine to UK regulators showing the vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections – as high as the efficacy rate of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.
  • Multiple additional COVID-19 vaccines are still under development. For more information click here.

Diversity in clinical trials is important to demonstrate the vaccine is safe and effective for all persons. Diversity in current clinical trials:

    • 28% of Moderna trial participants are from “diverse communities”
    • 75% of UIC’s Moderna trial participants from racial/ethnic minorities
    • 26% of Pfizer/BioNTech trial participants have “diverse backgrounds”

Most vaccine products will be provided in 2-dose series, and some vaccine products will require special storage and handling (e.g., ultra-cold storage).

  • Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) has been preparing since the pandemic started to make the COVID-19 vaccine available as soon as possible to people living and working in suburban Cook County.
  • CCDPH is working with partners at all levels, including hospitals, health care providers and community leaders, on flexible and responsive COVID vaccination programs that can accommodate different vaccines.
  • Vaccination for COVID-19 will happen in a phased approach. There will be a very limited supply in the beginning. As a result vaccines will be prioritized for:
    • Healthcare workers – particularly those who treat COVID patients. Hospitals will vaccinate their own employees.
    • Residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Long-term care facilities are part of a federal program that works with pharmacies to vaccinate residents and staff.
  • Vaccine supply is expected to continually increase in the weeks and months ahead. Eventually, the vaccine will be available to all suburban Cook County residents who want it. CCDPH will work with partners to ensure those that are the most vulnerable have access COVID vaccinations.