The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is making steady progress making plans around an expected COVID-19 vaccine.

The department is encouraged by the information the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released last Tuesday clarifying the process for FDA review and licensure of COVID-19 vaccines. This aligns with the DOH commitment as a state to ensure the vaccines have adequate clinical data and independent review before they are licensed. DOH is committed to science and the need to critically evaluate these new vaccines for their safety and efficacy in an unbiased way before their use. The department will be watching the FDA approval process closely to make sure it is thorough and transparent.

Last Friday, the National Academy of Medicine released the “Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine” consensus study report, which includes recommendations for ensuring equity in distribution, administration, and access to the vaccine; for effective community engagement, risk communication, and strategies to promote vaccine acceptance; and for equitable global allocation.

Washington state will use this report to inform our planning and thinking for how vaccines are prioritized while there is a limited initial supply. Finally, the department is aiming to open electronic provider enrollment in November. It is drafting information to share with healthcare providers later this week about the federal requirements to help providers be ready when enrollment opens.

DOH continues to work on our state vaccine plan and will be ready to turn it in to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by the October 16th due date.

While some planning cannot be completed until the final vaccine candidates are, the department says it is doing as much as possible now to make sure the process runs smoothly when it starts.