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Saturday, 24 October 2020 2.54 PM IST

Free vaccine for Americans, US health agencies hoping for vaccination campaign to begin in January 2021

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WASHINGTON: A 57 page "playbook" just in from the US government outlines a comprehensive plan to make the COVID-19 vaccine available free to all Americans once it is proven safe and effective.

The shot wouldn't be broadly available to most of the US population until the summer or fall of 2021, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield told the Congress on Wednesday.

At this time, public polling is showing that less than 50 per cent of all Americans are willing to get a shot even when the vaccine is widely available.

Any version available this year would be in "very limited supply", Redfield said, while appealing to Americans to mask up because "they really work".

"The goal of the US government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine for all people in the United States who wish to be vaccinated," read the first page of the report from the CDC.

In an optimistic scenario, US health agencies are hoping for a vaccination campaign to begin in January 2021 or even as early as December 2020 and reach population scale by next summer. The Pentagon would be involved in vaccine distribution while civilian health workers will be pushing needles into bare arms.

The CDC assesses that for most vaccines, people will need two doses about 21 to 28 days apart. These double-dose vaccines will have to come from the same drugmaker.

CDC's existing centralised distributor contract with McKesson, which distributed the H1N1 vaccine in 2009–2010,

includes an option for the distribution of vaccines during a pandemic. The McKesson contract can cover rapid distribution of doses of refrigerated (2–8 degrees Celsius) and frozen (-20 degrees Celsius) vaccines.

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