- Health officials and the Department of Defense outlined their ‘playbook’ for states to start giving out free coronavirus vaccines before Congress Wednesday
- The Pentagon will help roll out the shots which will be administered by health workers
- Americans could start getting vaccinated as early as January of next year or late this year
- Vaccination will not be required, but anyone who wants a shot will be able to get it for free
- Multiple drugmakers will provide shots to the US, with most coming in two doses delivered 21 to 28 days apart
The Trump administration plans to start shipping coronavirus vaccines within 24 hours of approval from regulators, the government announced Wednesday in its ‘playbook’ to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans as early as January.
In accompanying testimony before a Senate committee, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr Robert Redfield said a vaccine likely won’t be available to the public until spring or summer of 2021.
No companies have completed testing for their coronavirus vaccines or gotten Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for them.
Yet Trump has continued to insist that a vaccine will be ready in a matter of weeks – ahead of Election Day on November 3.
Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, accused the CDC of being politically motivated.
‘It escapes no one’s perspective that you’re deliberately laying [plans to have states start administering vaccines] two days before the election,’ Merkley said, asking Dr Redfield who in the White House had asked him to do so.
When Redfield answered that ‘no one’ had, Merkley hit back that he was ‘influencing the election,’ asking ‘what happened to science driving decisions’ and said that the improbable vaccine timeline ‘undermines [the CDC’s] credibility.’
In a report to Congress and an accompanying ‘playbook’ for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or possibly later this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot.
Vaccines will be available to anyone, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.
Whenever a vaccine to combat the virus that has infected more than 6.6 million Americans and killed nearly 196,000 people in the US, the Pentagon plans to be involved with the distribution of vaccines, but civilian health workers will be the ones giving shots.
The campaign is ‘much larger in scope and complexity than seasonal influenza or other previous outbreak-related vaccination responses,’ said the playbook for states from the CDC.
President Trump tweeted: ‘Vaccines are moving along fast and safely!’ following the report’s presentation on Wednesday, as the US recorded an uptick of more than 51,000 cases and over 1,400 deaths over the past 24 hours.