Augusta University staff get vaccine next week if Pfizer gets FDA approval

    Augusta University Health System is making distribution plans for two COVID-19 vaccines ahead of the FDA’s approval for emergency use authorization. Javier Zayas photography

    Augusta University Health System is making distribution plans for two COVID-19 vaccines ahead of the FDA’s approval for emergency use authorization.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday will consider the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer.

    The United States on Wednesday recorded its highest number of daily deaths — 3,140 — since the pandemic began. In Georgia, 9,073 people have died of COVID-19.

    Emergency room visits related to COVID-19 increased to 6% statewide over the two-week period Nov. 21 to Dec. 4, according to the state health department.

    Approval for emergency use authorization is expected, and officials with Augusta University have a plan to start vaccinating employees before the end of the month.

    A decision about Pfizer’s vaccine will be voted on sometime between Friday and Sunday, and then Moderna’s EUA panel will convene Thursday, Dec. 17, with a decision made between Dec. 18 and 20.

    Dr. Joshua Wyche, the director of Pharmacy for Ambulatory Services at Augusta University Health, said 48 hours is a good barometer for successful distribution post EUA decision.

    He expects the university to distribute the Pfizer vaccine toward the end of next week and the Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 21.

    “The phased approach is simply because in a perfect world supply and demand would be equivalent, but, unfortunately, in the case of the initial COVID-19 vaccine, demand will extraordinarily be higher than the supply that is available,” he said, “even with the unprecedented at-risk manufacturing that has taken place by both Pfizer and Moderna.”

    It could take up to 18 months before everyone who wants a vaccine can get one, Wyche said.

    Because supply is limited and demand far exceeds what is available, no one will be required to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

    This story appears in the Georgia Recorder through a news partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

    Ellen Eldridge
    Ellen Eldridge is a health care reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting. She has previously worked as a breaking news reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The topics she most often writes about are mental and other health care issues, as well as public policy and safety.