EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Health care professionals in the Tri-State are sharing their thoughts on a COVID-19 vaccine, as CDC advisers met Tuesday to decide who will be first in line for a coronavirus vaccine when the times comes.
According to the CDC, the recommendations from Tuesday’s meeting will be passed along to officials at the state level, which will then trickle down to local communities.
Health officials in Vanderburgh County say they are already planning for what could be a monumental month in the fight against COVID-19, nearly one year into the battle.
“That’s very tiresome, and it’s also emotional,” says Dr. David Schultz with Evansville Primary Care. “With the coming of a vaccine, it gives us hope that we can finally get over the hump of COVID-19.”
Dr. Schultz says as CDC advisers meet to vote on who will be first in line to receive a COVID vaccine, most physicians are on the same page.
“Most of us physicians feel our older population should be immunized first,” shared Dr. Schultz. “Most of us physicians believe that our healthcare workers should be immunized, but I think a couple other areas that should be considered are teachers and those who are involved with children, just because of the multiple contact opportunities.”
Dr. Schultz says he believes high-risk individuals should also be among the first to be immunized.
“The people who are at higher risk for COVID-19,” says Dr. Schultz, “are going to be those individuals above the age of 65, individuals with a BMI greater than 35, diabetics, people with COPD, and also moderate to severe asthma.”
Healthcare providers in long-term care facilities are also high on the recipient list, according to Dr. Schultz.
“We just recently got a message from local health authorities indicating that a vaccine, as long as it goes through the advisory board approval and all of that within this week or so, that by the second or third week in December, it could potentially be heading our way at that point,” says Josh Bowman, administrator at Bethel Manor in Evansville.
Bowman says for his roughly 100 employees, he believes a safe and effective vaccine could prevent outbreaks at his facility. He says a vaccine would also ensure his staff felt safer at work every day and could lessen the worry of taking the virus home to their families.
Bowman did mention, however, he feels widespread vaccination is needed before Bethel Manor could, once again, open its doors for visitation, and a delay in receiving the vaccine could leave families outside the doors even longer.
“I think really everything with us opening up obviously hinges on community spread and community outbreaks,” says Bowman, “and all of that can really be remedied by a safe, effective vaccine. If we were not first in line to get that, I think it will kind of keep us hunkered down longer than if we were able to get it much more quickly.”
Bowman says his facility has already signed up through the CDC to determine which pharmacy will distribute the vaccine to Bethel Manor when the time comes.
But health professionals warn this is no time to let your guard down. They say even if you get vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask.
“There are many individuals out there who will receive a vaccine,” says Dr. Schultz, “but there are other individuals whose reception of a vaccine will occur three, four, maybe even six months later down the road.”
Officials with Ascension St. Vincent also released the following statement Tuesday, regarding the possibility of vaccine distribution.
“The FDA announced that they will be reviewing the Pfizer application for emergency use authorization (EUA) on December 10th. Ascension St. Vincent will begin its vaccination program as soon as the EUA is granted by the FDA and we have vaccine available. Consistent with national guidance, frontline healthcare workers will be prioritized with our vaccination program.”
Trilogy Health Services, which oversees a few long-term care facilities in the Tri-State, also shared its vaccination plan. It can be found on the company’s website.
“We are going to be dealing with COVID-19 for at least the next several years,” says Dr. Schultz. “Our hope is to see less cases, less people having to go to the hospital, and certainly, less people passing away from COVID-19.”