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Trump administration unveils COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

By Sandhya Raman, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration announced its strategy Wednesday for distributing any eventual COVID-19 vaccine, which requires states and localities to submit plans to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Oct. 16.

The 11-page overview and 57-page playbook developed by the departments of Health and Human Services and Defense are intended to assist state, tribal, territorial and other local public health programs. HHS broke down the process into first communicating with local officials to promote the vaccine, distributing it, ensuring the reliability of the supply chain, and monitoring the vaccine's administration.

Ensuring that consumers get vaccines in a timely and correct way will be a major test for the administration, which has struggled to meet several challenges throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

For most of the potential vaccines, individuals can expect to receive two doses separated by 21 or 28 days.

The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be distributed swiftly after an emergency use authorization or Biologics License Application approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

During a call with reporters Wednesday, federal officials said that 24 hours after a EUA or BLA, vaccines will move to administration sites and will be distributed by the health care distribution and technology company McKesson. Before that, the American Society for Investigative Pathology is expected to offer McKesson recommendations on distribution.


The rollout involves three phases for different populations, with vaccines likely integrated into routine care run by public and private programs in the final phase.

CDC Director Robert Redfield told reporters that initially there may be a limited vaccine supply, and that distribution would focus on frontline health care workers first, followed by other essential workers and those at highest risk for illness such as older people.

"CDC's goal and that of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccines for all people in the United States who wish to be vaccinated," he said.

Redfield cautioned that it's still unclear what it will take for herd immunity to be achieved so that the virus is contained.


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