The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that a coronavirus vaccine could be distributed as early as next month. The agency published documents on Wednesday instructing state health agencies to prepare to distribute a federally approved vaccine by late October. The news is surprising for its early projected timeline. Also, it has been met with some contradictory information from other government agencies.
A CDC spokesperson told media, “For the purpose of initial planning, CDC provided states with certain planning assumptions as they work on state specific plans for vaccine distribution, including possibly having limited quantities of vaccines in October and November.”
Anthony Fauci, the current national authority on the pandemic, said that enough clinical data should exist to approve two vaccines as early as November.
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The US military is helping to speed up vaccine development. It does so from assisting with research to testing the virus at several key locations.
In a press release, Tom McCaffery, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, said,
“The Department of Defense continues to play a key role in the development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.”
Free of Cost to High-Risk Groups
As the expected launch date approaches, the issue of how the vaccine will roll out becomes ever more relevant. How much will it cost, and who will be able to access it first?
The US government appears set to prioritize the highest-risk groups for the vaccine. These include the elderly and those with underlying conditions that make the coronavirus more dangerous. As we’ve seen with the earlier response to the pandemic, such as PPE production, several industries will likely come together to manufacture and distribute the vaccine one is approved.
The accessibility, cost, and timeline of the vaccine are important, but will people choose to take it once it’s available? The speedy rollout has many Americans thinking twice about whether the inoculation is worth the risk.
Will People Take the Vaccine?
Polls vary in terms of the percentage of Americans that plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it comes out. However, it tends to float around half the country. For example, a recent YouGov poll conducted in late July indicated that only 42% intend to take the vaccine when it first launches.
One reason for Americans’ reluctance is the possibility of mild but unpleasant side effects. These include a low fever and headaches. Another reason is the fear that the vaccine could cause severe, unexpected issues. The extremely short time from development to launch leaves many skeptical about the safety profile of the vaccine.
Another reason for low enthusiasm: The vaccine may not even work. While some vaccines have extremely high rates of effectiveness, many others, such as the flu vaccine, only protect around half of those who receive it.
The COVID-19 vaccine will probably look a bit more like the latter, and the government is ok with that. As Yahoo News reported,
“Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would be willing to approve a COVID-19 candidate vaccine with an efficacy of 50 percent. Such a vaccine would help slow the virus’s spread, but it probably wouldn’t extinguish the U.S. epidemic — even if all Americans got vaccinated.”
As an eagerly awaited vaccine makes its way through the pipeline, the realization is setting in that it may not mean the end of the pandemic.
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