Governor Baker released Massachusetts’ phased COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan on Wednesday. Under the state plan, frontline healthcare workers will receive the vaccine first, followed by nursing home and assisted living residents and staff. Emergency responders, congregate care settings, home-based healthcare workers, and healthcare workers doing non-COVID-facing care will also be inoculated under Phase One which is expected to last from December-February. Phase Two (February-April) includes individuals with 2+ comorbidities, essential workers, adults over 65 years old, and individuals with one comorbidity. The vaccine will be available to the general public in Phase 3, which is expected to begin in April, based on allocation of the vaccine from the federal government.
Also in Massachusetts, on Friday Governor Baker signed the FY2021 budget. The signed budget included language to extend the sunset on copay assistance to January 1, 2023, allowing drug manufacturers to provide commercially insured patients cost-sharing assistance through coupons or vouchers.
On Friday, the FDA issued emergency use authorization for Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, and in a statement released Sunday, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that he had accepted the recommendation from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The first shipments of the vaccine left Pfizer’s Michigan facility on Sunday morning.
In Federal news, President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to “ensure that Americans have priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government.” Additionally, the House passed a one-week Continuing Resolution (CR) on Wednesday to fund the government through the end of the day on December 18, 2020. The CR was passed by voice vote in the Senate and signed by President Trump on Friday.
On Monday, presidential electors across the United States met to formally choose Joe Biden as the nation’s next president. The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a joint session of Congress on January 6th.
Following the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research’s (CBER) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet to discuss emergency use authorization of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 18 and older. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced Friday that an additional 100 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate will be purchased and shipping will begin immediately, if authorized by the FDA.