The Department of Defense and federal health agencies have outlined plans for a coronavirus vaccine, which includes having them available free of charge to all Americans.
The plans came in the form of a report to Congress and a “playbook” for states and local governments, according to the Associated Press. The agencies are looking at a possible start to a vaccination campaign in January, although it is still possible that this may come later in the year.
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“We are working closely with our state and local public health partners … to ensure that Americans can receive the vaccine as soon as possible and vaccinate with confidence,”
Vaccinations will begin gradually among some population groups – such as health workers, other important workers and the more vulnerable – before eventually pushing up for distribution to anyone who wants it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s playbook, the vaccination campaign will be “much larger in scope and complexity than seasonal flu or other previous outbreak-related vaccination responses.”
Several vaccine candidates currently undergoing trials may end up being approved. The expectation is that people for most of them need two doses between 21 and 28 days apart. Playbook encourages providers to give patients reminders to get their second dose, which must be from the same vaccine manufacturer as the first.
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An AP poll in May showed that 20% would not get a coronavirus vaccine and 31% were unsure. Since then, Democrats including Vice Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, D-California, have expressed skepticism about a vaccine if approved in time for the November election.
President Trump said in a “Fox & Friends” interview Tuesday that a vaccine could be approved “in a matter of weeks.”
Government officials have insisted that policy will not play a role in vaccine development or availability and that any approved vaccine will meet safety and efficacy standards.
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“Americans should know that the vaccine development process is driven entirely by science and data,” Azar said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.