FDA gives emergency approval to Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

(AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use Friday night, making it the second vaccine to hopefully put an end to a pandemic that’s already claimed 311,000 lives.

An advisory committee for the FDA gave its OK to the vaccine Thursday in a near-unanimous vote. It was the same panel that gave the go ahead for Pfizer’s vaccine to be fully-approved last week, and the FDA made it official the next day.

Like the Pfizer vaccine, it’ll be used to vaccinate healthcare and frontline workers who work directly with COVID-19 positive patients first, and then will be distributed to help protect long-term care facility residents and employees before becoming widely available.

Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of State Health Services says 460,500 doses are expected to be shipped to Texas next week. Van Deusen said with the way Moderna’s vaccine is stored, it can be ordered in smaller quantities, which could make it a better candidate to be shipped to rural areas.

The Moderna vaccine doesn’t need to be stored in sub-zero temperatures like the Pfizer one does, so the Moderna vaccines can be shipped in batches of 100 doses, making it more conducive for smaller hospitals and providers. The minimum order of Pfizer doses is 900 and has to be shipped directly from the company because of the storage issues, so it will typically go to larger providers.

The state has contracted with the McKesson Corporation, a medical supplies wholesale company, to ship the Moderna vaccine to providers.

Van Deusen says DSHS plans to reserve “a significant amount” of Pfizer doses to support the state’s long-term care program.

Christmas could delay shipments a few days, Van Deusen said, and figuring out which providers get a certain amount of doses will be determined on a “week-by-week basis.”

Once providers get a vaccine from a manufacturer, they’ll more than likely continue to get that same company’s vaccine throughout the pandemic, although Van Deusen said there might be reasons to change that down the line.

Van Deusen said local governments can use COVID-19 relief funds to help support distribution, and he said the state is also getting money to help get the vaccines out to providers.

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