CINCINNATI — As the country eyes a viable COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, health officials and a major local company are starting to work on what distribution would look like in the Tri-State.
A Kroger spokesperson confirmed Friday it is part of “Operation Warp Speed,” the effort by the White House to get a vaccine to market as speedily and safely as possible. The grocery and pharmacy chain will carry a coronavirus vaccine in its more than 2,000 pharmacies and clinics when available.
Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore said the city has a leadership team that is involved in planning for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. And while she said this is good news, she also worries about the immediate threat of rising cases.
“The vaccine -- that’s the good news,” she said. “We know that probably December after it goes through the FDA, maybe we’re looking (at) December, January. But, today my heart is heavy because the cases continue to rise. This is real. The deaths are real. It impacts all of us.”
When a vaccine does become available, Moore said the process of getting those vaccines to people may look like the pop-up testing sites already seen for COVID-19 testing.
“It might look like a drive-thru if we have the appropriate mechanisms set up where we can do that,” she said. “We want to make sure that when we have indoor testing vaccination clinics that it’s set up to be safe, so that there’s social distancing.”
There is also special consideration given to those who work odd hours, live outside the city limits and those who don’t have access to transportation, Moore said.
“We’re thinking in terms of let’s make it convenient, accessible,” she said. “Everything we talk about, access to quality care. Under our emergency response plans we talked about points of distribution which will be open throughout the community for the general public to come, so those are places where you will go and you can get vaccinated.”
The vaccine will be distributed in tiers as CDC guidelines have indicated, Moore said, with those in long-term care and nursing facilities being in tier one. Also, first responders and people who are critically ill will likely be some of the first to get vaccinated.
Even though a vaccine is hopeful, Moore said this isn't the time for people to let their guard down. In fact -- it’s just the opposite.
“We’ve got to get to the tunnel. We’ve got to get to the light. We have to take these incremental steps to move us to where we want to be and where we want to go.”
Moore said she is begging people to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones so they live long enough to see the vaccine come to fruition.
“If you value your family, protect your family and do the things that we’re asking and be safe,” she said. “So you can be here to receive the vaccine.”