While those around the world anxiously await an approved COVID-19 vaccine, Guthrie County Public Health doesn’t anticipate mass distribution for the local area until 2021.

Public Health Director Jotham Arber admits that he could be wrong, but his prediction comes from a continued monitoring of studies being released on the vaccines under development. Arber says it’s always important to be cautious when it comes to developing new vaccines and other remedies, as the last thing he wants is for a vaccine to be ineffective or not effective enough in protecting against the virus.

For the distribution plan, Arber explains that the approved vaccine will be distributed from the federal government to the state level, and from there onto different coalitions of counties, or points of distribution (POD). He says that the county’s allotment of vaccines would then be given to “closed PODs” such as a long term care facility or business, “So the goal with any sort of vaccination distribution is to hit your most vulnerable population first so that they are protected and then roll out vaccinations to the rest of the county. We here at the health department have been doing something called a zero prevalence study to kind of see where the population of Guthrie County is as far as those that have already had the virus and may not have known about it and those that we can track with other testing and that’s kind of helped us develop a strategy for how many vaccinations we would necessarily need to get in the county to get to a level of herd immunity.”

Arber adds that there are ongoing studies into what percentage of residents vaccinated is preferred for achieving herd immunity, with some claiming 45-60% of a population.