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Idaho is a step closer to COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 19:34:14-05

The U.S. advisory panel is endorsing the widespread use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after a meeting today with outside experts.

The committees reviewed the vaccine trials and voted the vaccine shot appears safe and effective against COVID-19 for people 16 and older.

The FDA's final decision on the emergency use authorization is expected to follow within a few days.

FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn told Idaho News 6 that he does not want to pre-judge the decision, but it could before the weekend.

"America's FDA, Idaho's FDA is known around the world as the gold standard for assessment of medical products. We do a very rigorous scientific review, and unlike many other regular agencies in other countries, we actually look at the raw clinical data — the raw data from the application. We do our own assessment of it. We do our own statistical analysis of it, and we draw our own conclusions," Steve Hahn said.

After the FDA decides on the Pfizer vaccine's authorization, the CDC will decide how the vaccine should be used in the United States.

Idaho expects to receive about 13,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, specifically for the healthcare workers who should be able to receive the vaccine right away.

"The first in line will probably be people in hospital settings or in clinic settings where they are actually diagnosing treating COVID patients in the outpatient setting," State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn said.

Long-term care staff and residents will be vaccinated through the federal pharmacy partnership program, but it could take some time.

"We have pharmacies around the state who will be working with those long-term care facilities to get those vaccinations done. That will probably not start for a few more weeks because there is some lead time. We need to have enough vaccine to get that program going," Christine Hahn said.

For the rest of Idahoans, it's unclear exactly when a vaccine could be available. Medical experts are expecting spring or summer of 2021.

The FDA will make the final call on emergency use authorization. They say they've taken the appropriate time and looked into how safe this vaccine is for widespread use against the virus.

"If our scientists determine that a vaccine should be authorized, I have 100% confidence in that," Steve Hahn said.