It’s coming: first shipment of COVID vaccine could reach Idaho next week

Idaho could receive an initial shipment of more than 13,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week, state officials announced Tuesday during a telephone townhall meeting with Gov. Brad Little.

“It’s coming, there is incredible news there,” Little said.

“If everything goes according to plan, there is a good chance that in late April, May, June we should be able to go back to a much more normal life that we have lived here in Idaho.”

Director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Dave Jeppesen discusses Idaho’s first COVID-19 deaths at a news conference on March 27. Sami Edge/IdahoEdNews file photo.

During the call, Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said the feds could approve a new Pfizer vaccine this weekend or Monday.

Once that happens, Idaho expects to receive its first shipment of 13,650 vaccines within 24-48 hours, Jeppesen said.

The first shipment could arrive by Dec. 16 under that timeline, with the first shots reserved for health care workers, Jeppesen said. Another round of 13,650 vaccines would follow 21 days after the first shipment to serve as the second dose for the people who receive the first shipment.

It’s coming at a crucial time. COVID-19 cases continue to spike and the state’s death toll passed 1,000 last week. 

“A vaccine is going to be critical and it’s on its way,” Jeppesen said. “And I don’t expect any disruptions in that vaccine plan that’s in place.”

A vaccine has potential to affect schools early on in the state’s deployment strategy. While health care workers will be given the earliest shipments, K-12 school staff are scheduled to receive the vaccine in phase 1B. That includes teachers, school staff members, bus drivers, alongside other critical infrastructure workers such as law enforcement, food processing and grocery store staffs, corrections staff and National Guard members.

As for a timeline, Jeppesen said the state could be finished administering vaccines for the initial phase and phase 1B and move on to phase two by late winter or early spring.

By early summer “a good chunk of the general population” could be vaccinated, Jeppesen estimated.

While 13,650 vaccines will not be enough to cover all hospital and physician staff, Jeppesen said additional vaccine shipments will arrive in waves through the winter, spring and summer. He expressed hope that a second vaccine developed by Moderna would be approved later this month, potentially doubling supplies.

Once vaccines are available, people will be able to obtain them from many of the same places they would get a seasonal flu shot, including clinics, pharmacies and hospitals.

The vaccine will need to be administered by a medical provider. Idaho allows pharmacists to administer the vaccine.

“We believe these vaccines are very safe and very effective,” Jeppesen said.

Clark Corbin

About Clark Corbin

Reporter Clark Corbin has covered Idaho government and education for more than a decade. He’s followed every legislative session, gavel-to-gavel, since 2011. Clark is a co-host of the Extra Credit podcast with Kevin Richert published on Fridays. You can follow him on Twitter: @clarkcorbin. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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