The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the second vaccine approved by the agency to combat the coronavirus pandemic for individuals 18 years of age and older. Due to limited supplies, both vaccines are being distributed first to front-line health care workers, and residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
There is no information at this time on the timing and procedures by which people with ALS can access a COVID-19 vaccine. The ALS Association is working with public health officials at the state and federal level to make sure people with ALS and their caregivers are prioritized for vaccine access.
The FDA is expected to establish priority communities for a second wave of vaccinations in early 2021. An advisory panel for the agency will consider people at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition, and that panel has recognized ALS as a condition that might lead to higher risk of severe COVID-19.
Like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine is administered in the muscle as a series of two doses. Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine can be stored at normal freezer temperatures, and should be easier to distribute. Even though we expect people with ALS to be given priority access to a vaccine, that access is still weeks away. In the meantime, COVID-19 infection rates continue to be high, and we urge everyone to continue following CDC guidance on social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks.