United States public health officials are working to facilitate the timely development of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is still much work to be done before such an immunization hits the market, however. Michael Hogue, dean of Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy, is one of 45 health-care professionals who have been appointed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Workgroup on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Since April 2020, the workgroup has been meeting once a week to discuss the efficacy of potential vaccines against the novel coronavirus, as well as policy surrounding the distribution of the vaccine.
“Our task is to evaluate the scientific evidence behind COVID-19 vaccines and make recommendations to the ACIP on their use,” Hogue said. “The ACIP will then determine to modify or accept those recommendations to the director of the CDC, who will ultimately decide on the official vaccine policies.”
Other members of the workgroup include representatives from the FDA, U.S. Health and Human Services, and medical experts and physicians from across the nation. Hogue, who also serves as the president of the American Pharmacists Association, is the only pharmacist in the workgroup.
Hogue said it has been an enlightening experience working with experts who have been researching coronaviruses for more than 30 years.
“It should be reassuring to the American public,” Hogue said, “that there is a group of independent health experts who are dedicated and focused on making the best recommendations that would meet our society’s needs.”