PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia is the only city that the federal health authorities are asking to help plan distribution for a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.
Health Commissioner Tom Farley remains optimistic that at least one vaccine will be available by early next year.
“Nearly 40 different vaccines are now being tested in people. Three of those that are the farthest advanced in the testing process are now being tested on tens of thousands of people,” he explained.
At Tuesday’s briefing, he said AstraZeneca is so confident in the one it’s developed with Oxford scientists that it’s already manufacturing it.
Still, demand is likely to outstrip production, so the CDC has asked four states, and Philadelphia, to work out a delivery system.
Farley said the first priority would be the elderly and medically vulnerable and their caregivers and medical providers.
“As more doses become available, the vaccine would be opened up to others at risk, and ultimately everyone. But because the virus affects minority populations harder, we will make sure they’re particularly available to African-Americans and other groups that have been most impacted by the virus,” he said.
Farley said the doses will be tracked on Philadelphia’s immunization registry, which may be one reason the CDC chose the city for the distribution pilot program that it could become a national model.