The Department of Defense and federal health agencies have outlined plans for a coronavirus vaccine, which include having them available for free for all Americans.
The plans came in the form of a report to Congress and a “playbook” for states and local governments, The Associated Press reported. The agencies are looking at January for a potential beginning of a vaccination campaign, although it remains possible that this could come later this year.
“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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
Vaccinations would start gradually among some segments of the population – such as health workers, other essential workers, and the more vulnerable – before eventually ramping up for distribution to all who want 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 influenza or other previous outbreak-related vaccination responses.”
Several vaccine candidates currently going through trials could end up being approved. The expectation is that for most of them people would need two doses between 21 and 28 days apart. The playbook encourages providers to give reminders to patients to get their second dose, which must be from the same vaccine manufacturer as the first.
An AP poll in May showed that 20% would not get a coronavirus vaccine and 31% were unsure. Since then, Democrats including vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., expressed skepticism over a vaccine if one were approved in time for November’s 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 politics will not play a role in vaccine development or availability and that any approved vaccine would meet standards for safety and effectiveness.
“Americans should know that the vaccine development process is being driven completely by science and the data,” Azar said.