The federal government has told states to be ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 1.
In a letter to governors dated Aug. 27, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said states “in the near future” will receive permit applications from McKesson Corp., which has contracted with the CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.
“CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020,” Redfield wrote.
Redfield told Yahoo Finance that “there’ll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December.”
James S. Blumenstock, a senior vice president at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said the CDC was offering “an aggressive but necessary timetable.”
The vaccines are two doses, and each is given a month apart. Some experts warned that there could not be adequate data on whether the vaccines work and are safe before Nov. 1.
Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University’s tropical medicine school, said he was “very concerned” about the Food and Drug Administration approving a vaccine before knowing whether it works and is safe.
“The public health community wants a safe and effective vaccine as much as anybody could want it,” Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota infectious disease expert, said. “But the data have to be clear and compelling that the vaccine is effective and that it’s safe.”
Some states on Wednesday said they were working on next steps while still awaiting details from CDC.
New Mexico Human Service Secretary David Scrase said the state was preparing to administer coronavirus vaccines on a limited basis starting in November to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. The broad public vaccine roll-out is slated for January.
A spokesman for Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said the state was reviewing its next steps.
“News of a vaccine is encouraging and a testament to the power of American innovation,” the spokesman, Gillum Ferguson, said.
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