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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

COVID-19 vaccine: If approved, who will get it first in Indiana?

If approved, the first doses of the vaccine probably wouldn't arrive in Indiana until mid-December.

INDIANAPOLIS — Pfizer said it's COVID-19 vaccine is "exceeding expectations" and is 90 percent effective in tests done so far. 

Testing is still underway, but the company could seek emergency authorization for the drug before the end of November.

A vaccine can't arrive soon enough at Indiana hospitals.

"We have been preparing and planning to do this whenever it came," said Dr. Chris Weaver, senior vice president of clinical effectiveness at IU Health. 

The vaccine has to be shipped and stored in an ultra-deep freeze about 100 degrees below zero. It must be distributed fairly to hospitals, and some people, health care workers among them, may not believe a vaccine developed so quickly is safe.

"We would highly encourage it, but yes I am sure there will be some who despite that advice will want to wait," Weaver said.

If approved, the first doses of the vaccine probably wouldn't arrive in Indiana until mid-December.

Demand will be much greater than the number of doses available. That's why the Indiana State Department of Health developed a comprehensive three-part COVID-19 allocation plan.

Health care workers have top priority. Those working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, emergency medical services as well as nurses, doctors and therapists will be among those vaccinated first.

Phase 1-B is aimed at protecting the most vulnerable people. These are individuals 65 or older at higher risk because of existing medical conditions or living in long-term care facilities.

Phase 2 focuses on people at a high risk of becoming infected because they live or work in places where social distancing is not possible. That includes prisons, group homes and shelters.

Essential workers such as first responders, food service, retail and public transit workers as well as teachers, warehouse public health workers are included in the second phase of vaccinations.

The general public will be the last to be vaccinated. That may not occur until six months after a vaccine becomes available. Until then, for most Hoosiers, the best protection against COVID-19 will be face masks, hand washing and social distancing.