Duke Health shares plans for distribution of COVID-19 vaccine available as Pfizer seeks FDA authorization

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- As two pharmaceutical companies come close to seeking FDA emergency use authorization for their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, Duke Health outlined its plans for distribution among hospital staff and patients.

Friday, Pfizer announced it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine after showing its vaccine was 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19. Earlier this week, Moderna announced its vaccine is also 95% effective, and it was weeks away from seeking FDA authorization.

In a letter to Duke Health and Duke University staff, officials said the vaccine will be distributed in accordance with guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

First, the hospital will prioritize health care workers most likely to come into contact with COVID-19-positive patients. In the next few rounds of distribution, patients and staff members at high risk of severe disease from COVID-19 will be able to get vaccinated.

Children will not be part of the first few rounds of vaccine distribution because neither Pfizer nor Moderna included childhood patients in their clinical trials.

"We need to wait until we have enough data to ensure safety and efficacy in children," Duke officials wrote.

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At this time, Duke University and Duke Health do not plan to require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Even with the good news on the horizon, Duke officials reminded employees to continue following COVID-19 safety cautions, including wearing a mask, staying physically distant, avoiding unnecessary travel and being careful when eating or drinking with others.
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