The federal government hopes to start vaccinating people against coronavirus within a day or two of Food and Drug Administration emergency authorization, officials said Friday.
“We fully anticipate that both Pfizer and Moderna will have data of both safety and effectiveness of their vaccines very shortly. We are very encouraged because their clinical trials are going extraordinarily well,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Health and Human Services Department, told reporters in a telephone briefing.
Mango was announcing a plan for retail pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens to distribute any eventual coronavirus vaccine to long-term care facilities such as nursing homes under an agreement – not a contract – with the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed.
“Part of the reason we are doing this is within 24 to 48 hours of the time the emergency use authorization is authorized, we expect to be putting needles into people’s arms,” Mango said. “This is pre-staging for what we believe will be rapid deployment.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Jay Butler noted that a third of coronavirus deaths in the US have been among residents of long-term care facilities. “We believe that this plan will be the quickest and easiest way to provide vaccines to long-term care facility residents,” Butler told reporters.
The CDC asked states to submit plans for vaccine distribution Friday. Workers and residents of long-term care facilities are expected to be among the first to get vaccinated.