As the pharmaceutical industry hurtles toward completing a COVID-19 vaccine, payers and PBMs have begun to draft vaccine distribution plans based on emerging guidance from federal public health leaders. Insurance industry leaders say that they anticipate the government and its chosen distributor, McKesson Corp., will handle most of the early work in distributing vaccines, but that payers should anticipate taking a role in educating members and directing inoculations to appropriate populations in later stages.
Official federal vaccine guidance will originate with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccine policy body. ACIP generates ongoing public health and distribution guidelines for vaccinations, including the annual rules for influenza vaccines. According to a Sept. 22 report in the Wall Street Journal, ACIP has opted to defer issuing formal guidance for initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution until clinical trials have advanced further. On a related point, ACIP generally waits to issue guidance until vaccines have been approved by the FDA. ACIP’s next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 28-30, and the panel may release guidance at that point.