The CDC has issues vaccine distribution recommendations to the states, and the Texas Department of Health Services has issued guiding principles regarding the distribution and administration of the vaccines.
What is the vaccine distribution plan?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended a tiered approach be used to determine in what order the vaccine will be distributed. The vaccine distribution will be prioritized in the following way:
- Healthcare personnel
- Workers in essential and critical industries
- People at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions
- People 65 years and older
- General public (those not in groups listed above)
Is the vaccine available for patients and community members?
Currently we do not have vaccine supply available for the general public as we are still using all of our allocation to vaccinate Tier 1A healthcare workers. We hope to be able to offer vaccine to community members in Tier 1B in the near future. State vaccine information is available at dshs.texas.gov. You can also visit your county health department for vaccine registration information. Texas Health Family Care and Texas Health Internal Medicine patients should watch for messages from your doctor about vaccine access.
General Vaccine Information
Am I required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
No. A COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory.
If I’ve already had COVID-19, would the vaccine be helpful?
Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.
At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
Individuals who are known COVID-19 positive should wait to receive the vaccine until they have recovered from their acute illness and no longer require isolation. There is no minimal interval between infection and vaccination, but current evidence suggests reinfection is unlikely within 90 days, so if an individual wishes to do so, the vaccine may be deferred until the end of the 90-day period.
How were the vaccines tested?
Clinical trials are evaluating investigational COVID-19 vaccines in tens of thousands of study participants to enable the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine safety and effectiveness. These clinical trials are being conducted according to the FDA’s rigorous standards.
The trials are conducted in three phases.
- Phase 1 – The vaccine is given to a small number of generally healthy people to assess its safety at increasing doses and to gain early information about how well the vaccine works to induce an immune response in people.
- Phase 2 – Studies include more people with varying health statuses and from different demographic groups receiving various dosages. These studies provide additional safety information and may provide initial information regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine.
- Phase 3 – The vaccine is administered to thousands of people in randomized, controlled studies involving broad demographic groups. In a randomized, controlled study, individuals are allocated at random to receive the vaccine and are compared against those in the study who did not receive the vaccine. This phase generates critical information on effectiveness and additional important safety data. It provides additional information about the immune response in people who receive the vaccine compared to those who receive a control, such as a placebo. (FDA)
How does the FDA determine emergency use authorization?
Approval of an emergency use authorization (EUA) request from a vaccine manufacturer enables the FDA to allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products, in a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. There must be no adequate, approved and available alternatives to a product for the FDA to approve an EUA request.
Vaccine manufacturers are currently conducting extensive clinical trials to generate the information needed by the FDA to determine whether the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19.