Gunderson Health System prepares for COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Five COVID-19 vaccines are currently in phase three of trials, according to Gundersen Health System.

First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler learned how the state of Wisconsin is proposing who should receive a vaccine first while supplies are limited.

In order to provide herd immunity, doctors say hundreds of millions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be needed in the U.S. Producing such a large amount can take time, which is why Gundersen says some companies are producing now before approval.

Dr. Raj Naik, Wisconsin Ethics Subcomittee Co-Chair said, “This operation warp speed that people have heard about the advantage is that they’re investing in subsequent stages before they even pass the prior stage.”

Naik says while that process can cut down the time it will take Americans to receive the immunization. The research is not being fast-forwarded.

“We cannot shortcut the science. Science still needs to go through the traditional phases of study, said Naik.

Knowing there will not be enough doses of a vaccine for everyone initially. The state disaster medical advisory committee created a priority list. First, is frontline health care workers.

Naik said, “They’re the ones that respond to the crisis for this pandemic and have to care for people that become ill.”

Naik says the next priority is proposed for those at severe risk.

“Those people will high risk of mortality–meaning dying from the disease or for complications from the disease,” said Naik.

Once a vaccine is approved and ready for distribution it will take months for low-risk healthy patients to receive it and doctors say even longer for children.

Naik said, “Children haven’t been studied yet. One of the five vaccines is just opening up trials to those children 12 and up and so children are going to be several months down the line as well.”

One of the five trials, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, is currently paused after unexplained illness in one participant. Doctors say that’s not uncommon with trials and show the safety measures in place.

“We want people to know that this is going to be something when it ultimately gets to market that is safe and effective. That’s critically important because it’s not about developing vaccines it’s making sure that people get vaccinated and those are not the same,” said Naik.

The draft framework is currently open for public comment online at DHS before moving forward in late October.

In Onalaska, Hayley Spitler, First News at Nine.

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