Arizona doctor talks issues that could arise with a COVID-19 vaccine

While a highly effective COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer could be widely distributed come winter, some health officials say there could be challenges associated with its distribution.

Experts say there could be issues with costs, the storage and the distribution itself.

Will Humble, former Director of Arizona Dept. of Health Services and current Arizona Public Health Association Director, says we're in a far different place than we were back in April when it comes to a vaccine, but we still have challenges.

He says in Arizona, nearly five and a half million people will have to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity and will need to receive a second dose 28 days later.

"We call that recall. So that means you have to get the same patient back to get the second booster shot. So, that's a challenge," Humble said.

Another challenge is that the vaccines require very cold storage at negative 94 degrees.

"When you thaw them out, you have to use them within a few hours. So that means it lends itself more to a mass vaccination clinic than the kind of vaccines you're used to than just going into your doctor's office. A normal doctor's office will not be able to hold temperatures that cold. And these multi-dose vials, they need to make sure they're going to use them all," Humble explained.

With all these challenges, Humble says it is doable but it will take a lot of planning. 

Vaccines will be distributed to the most at-risk populations first, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

COVID-19 will be around as a sporadic illness, but it won't be a public health emergency anymore as soon as we get enough vaccines deployed in Arizona.

Humble says that while many people are skeptical about the vaccines, you should trust the process.

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