With hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccines will be proven safe and effective soon, state and local public health authorities will play a critical role in ensuring the efficient distribution and administration of the vaccine.
To assess the readiness of these local governments to take on these responsibilities, KFF reviewed the preliminary vaccine distribution plans submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month by the states and the District of Columbia. These initial plans will be revised based on additional information and federal guidance.
The plans reveal that states are in varying stages of preparations, with some working on the issues for several months and others beginning more recently. Key findings include:
“Our review shows that states are all over the map in terms of their readiness to handle vaccine distribution and even less prepared to mount the large-scale outreach efforts required to address vaccine hesitancy,” KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said. “There is time to provide the resources and guidance they need, but not a lot of time.”
Looking ahead, President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign and transition team have planned for a more prominent role for the federal government. This could result in more detailed federal guidance and a stronger federal hand in vaccine distribution, planning and implementation in the coming months, even as state and local jurisdictions will remain responsible for much of this effort.
A separate new KFF brief examines how various government programs and private insurers cover and pay for vaccines now, including specific policies for COVID-19 vaccines.