NEW YORK (WPRI) — Pfizer announced Monday the launch of a U.S. COVID-19 Immunization Pilot Program with four states to help refine a plan for the delivery, deployment, and administration of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Last week, Pfizer announced its vaccine candidate looks to be 90% effective.
Rhode Island was chosen along with Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee due to their differences in size, population, and immunization infrastructure.
These four states will not receive the vaccine earlier than other states, according to the report.
R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken told 12 News the state has been working with Pfizer “for weeks.”
Wendelken says Rhode Island will help with the planning of some of the logistical challenges associated with a large vaccination effort, including storage, ordering by healthcare providers, data keeping, and temperature maintenance.
The vaccine must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, presenting a challenge to distribution.
“While this does not mean that we will necessarily get vaccine any earlier than other states, it does mean that we will have a leg up, in terms of planning, and will be ready to hit the ground running once a vaccine that has gone through all the safety reviews is available,” Wendelken said.
Wendelken added that another advantage the Ocean State has for being chosen for the pilot program is the state’s existing immunization infrastructure.
“Rhode Island is one of the best-immunized states in the country,” he said. “One of the reasons is our systems for ordering, distributing, and administering the vaccine in healthcare settings and community settings.”
The company says it will take what it learns in the pilot program and adapt it to other states across the country.
“We are hopeful that results from this vaccine delivery pilot will serve as the model for other U.S. states and international governments, as they prepare to implement effective COVID-19 vaccine programs,” Angela Hwang, Group President, Pfizer Bio Group said.
The company is on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.