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Idaho among states to receive potential COVID-19 vaccine early

Should the vaccine be approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Idaho's vulnerable communities will have it offered to them first.

BOISE, Idaho — After eight months of living through a global pandemic, analysis of Pfizer's Phase Three trials show their COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing infection.

If the data holds up, the effectiveness would be on par with childhood vaccines, like measles and chickenpox.

“That's a really impressive efficacy number,” said Sarah Leeds, manager of the Idaho Immunization Program.

Pfizer plans to apply for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization of the vaccine as soon as Nov. 16. The vaccine could then be shipped to any state where early distribution is approved based on states’ storage capacity for the vaccine.

Fortunately, Idaho may be one of the states to receive doses of the vaccine early.

“The requirement here is that the places that will get the vaccine early have to have an ultra-cold freezer,” Leeds said. “Those are not very common types of freezers.”

These ultra-cold freezers are crucial for storage because it will be at least two more weeks before a national committee gives the final stamp of approval for the vaccine to be administered.

“That early distribution really means we would get it after the Emergency Use Authorization and store it until the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets and approves. Then we could immediately begin vaccinating,” Leeds said. “It's only about 24 to 48 hours of a head start so to speak.”

Once the vaccine is approved by the committee, Idaho’s more vulnerable population will be prioritized first.

“We have been anticipating that first priority population will be healthcare workers and so we anticipate those folks will be the first people to choose to get vaccinated,” Leeds said.

Healthcare workers would be followed by adults 65 and older and people with high-risk conditions.

If everything goes to plan, the vaccine could be available to Idahoans by Dec. 1.

Gretchen Parsons is an anchor, reporter and producer at KTVB since 2016. You can follow her on Instagram @gretchenparsonsKTVB or  @gretchenKTVB on Twitter.

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