Local healthcare systems making plans how to deliver potential COVID-19 vaccine

News comes as the CDC tells all states to begin preparations to deliver vaccine by early November

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – There is some potentially promising news about a coronavirus vaccine.

The CDC is telling states to start planning on distributing a vaccine for COVID-19 by the beginning of November.

It hasn’t even been six full months since the coronavirus pandemic began, yet a vaccine could be on the way very soon.

“So we are in a remarkable age of innovation, and pandemics do spur that, especially when the health of the global community is at-risk,” Gundersen Health System infection preventionist Megan Meller said.

La Crosse’s healthcare systems are now putting plans in place.

“A lot of the factors on that have to do with how the CDC is going about releasing this vaccine,” Mayo Clinic Health System chair of critical care medicine Dr. Joseph Poterucha said.

Poterucha says the vaccine would likely go to big cities first, like New York and Chicago, before getting to La Crosse.

“I would conjecture we would try to target vulnerable populations,” Poterucha said.

That includes the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

“And maybe some vulnerable children in addition to the front line first-responders, healthcare workers, security agents and government,” Poterucha said.

Gundersen has a similar plan.

“Right now, the proposals are to administer the vaccine into different tier groups,” Meller said. “The first priority would be vaccinating the healthcare providers who are on the front lines.”

But even for those willing to get the vaccine, it may take a while.

“It’s going to be dependent on when we get our supply of vaccines and how much we get,” Meller said.

Meller says Gundersen already has flu vaccination clinics set up.

“And a clinic for a COVID vaccine would be no different,” Meller said.

But before any vaccine gets delivered, it must be proven it’s safe and effective.

“You know, if we can really understand that this is safe up-front with a good number of patients in a phase three trial, maybe we would get benefit from running with it,” Poterucha said. “So, time will tell.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, says if clinical trials prove that a vaccine is working safely and effectively, those trials could stop early. Everyone in those trials would then be able to get the vaccine.