The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials around the US to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October.
It’s also provided planning scenarios to help states prepare. The documents were first posted by the New York Times and the CDC confirmed to CNN it has sent them to city and state public health officials.
The scenarios offer details about distribution plans around two Covid-19 vaccines when supplies “may be constrained.” The documents prioritize particular populations for the vaccines, including health care professionals, essential workers, long-term care facility residents and staff and national security populations.
Some context: Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked states to speed through permits for a company the federal government has contracted with to help distribute any eventual coronavirus vaccine.
In a letter, Redfield asked them to waive any requirements that might get in the way of distributing vaccines by Nov. 1 — before Election Day— and weeks, if not months, before most experts expect any vaccine to be fully tested.
The documents do not necessarily mean a vaccine will be available by late October.
Pandemic planning exercises have for years included recommendations that the federal government ready a distribution network while scientists work on a vaccine. The Trump administration has said it’s doing this. Companies developing the vaccines are already ramping up manufacturing so that, in case one or more is found safe and effective in people, it could start going into arms immediately.
The federal government has a contract with medical and pharmaceutical supplies company McKesson to distribute coronavirus vaccines. But it will need permits and licenses from states and territories.
“The Covid-19 vaccine landscape is evolving and uncertain, and these scenarios may evolve as more information is available,” one of the scenario documents advises.