HARRISBURG - With news of a groundbreaking coronavirus vaccine close to completion, states around the country have started making plans to streamline deployment.
In Pennsylvania, a state hit hard by the first wave of the pandemic and currently enduring a treacherous second wave, health officials on Thursday released a comprehensive plan to roll out vaccinations once approved by the FDA.
Both Pfizer and Moderna touted highly effective vaccine results this week that reportedly carry an efficacy rate of 90% or higher against the coronavirus. The competing vaccinations are part of the Trump Administration's Operation Warp Speed, which helped expedite vaccine development and eventual distribution through massive federal aid.
FULL COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS
Pfizer said Wednesday that new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective, is safe and also protects older people most at risk of dying. Moderna's highly effective vaccine carried similar results and is expected to follow closely behind.
Once approved, Levine said Pennsylvania will work to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine in three phases. Phase 1 will focus on critical populations such as front line healthcare workers, essential employees, people 65 and older, and residents in congregate care settings. These carefully selected populations will be first in line due to an anticipated limited supply of vaccine doses.
The state will broaden its vaccination efforts in Phase 2 to include other vulnerable populations and people with health conditions who may be at high-risk. With an increase in doses, Phase 2 will start once Phase 1 candidates have had an opportunity to get their shots.
Finally, once Pennsylvania secures an ample amount of doses, Phase 3 will target the state's entire population.
Levine said if the federal approval process remains on track, a COVID-19 vaccine could be available within a month. However, she was careful to warn that it is unknown how quickly supply will meet demand.
Despite hopeful news on vaccine distribution, Levine was quick to remind Pennsylvanians that the pandemic is not over once the vaccine is available and distribution begins. Individuals will still be expected to remain socially distanced and masked, according to the health secretary.
"Pennsylvanian's need to answer the call, so that we stand united to stop the spread of COVID-19," Levine said while reinforcing the state strict "targeted mitigation orders."
Pennsylvania on Thursday announced more than 7,000 cases of COVID-19, the state's highest daily total since the onset of the coronavirus. In response to surging cases and a steady uptick in hospitalizations and deaths, the state tightened its testing and mask orders on Tuesday.
For the latest local news, sports and weather, download the FOX 29 News app.
DOWNLOAD: FOX 29 NEWS APP