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U.S. public health officials are diligently working to facilitate the timely development of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19, according to the FDA, but there is still much work to be done before such an immunization hits the market. Michael Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, dean of Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy, is one of 45 healthcare professionals who has been appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) to an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Workgroup on the COVID-19 vaccine.

The workgroup has been meeting once a week since April 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 the use of them,” Hogue says. “The ACIP will then determine to modify and/or accept those recommendations to the director of the CDC who will ultimately make the decision on the official vaccine policies.”

Other members of the workgroup include representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, 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 says it has been an enlightening experience working with experts who have been researching coronaviruses for over 30 years.

“It should be reassuring to the American public,” Hogue says, “that there is a group of independent health experts who are dedicated and focused on making the best recommendations that would meet the needs of our society."