CARSON CITY — Nevada will join other Western states to independently review the safety and effectiveness of any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.
Washington and Oregon also have joined the initiative, announced last week by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, which will create a review panel of immunization and public health experts. The move is driven by wariness over the federal government’s overall response to the pandemic and concern that it might rush approval of a vaccine. New York state has announced an independent review too.
“When the time comes, Nevadans will be able to feel confident in the safety of the vaccine knowing that an independent review by experts across the West gave it their seal of approval,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement.
Newsom, in his statement, said: “As COVID-19 does not stop at state lines, our response to it must similarly cross borders.”
The Western States Pact verification process will happen “in lockstep with the federal approval process” and not delay distribution of a vaccine to participating states, the Nevada announcement said.
“We have worked hard to develop a plan for distribution in our state, and when there is an approved vaccine, we want Nevadans to know it has been reviewed and deemed safe and effective,” said Richard Whitley, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Sisolak discussed Nevada’s vaccine rollout plan in a news briefing Monday. The state’s distribution playbook calls for phased delivery, with front-line health care workers first to receive it, followed by populations at heightened risk of exposure, such as other first responders, or people with severe illness, including those 65 and older.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said any vaccine “must be guided by the expertise of scientists and medical professionals, and that’s just what this workgroup will do.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown added: “The independent review conducted by this panel of doctors, scientists, and health experts will ensure that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone, especially communities that have been disproportionately impacted by this disease.”
Western states also collaborated last spring to coordinate their COVID-19 response and efforts to reopen their economies. They have urged Congress to approve an additional $1 trillion in pandemic relief for state and local governments and partnered on a pilot project for new exposure notification technology led by Google and Apple.