(The Center Square) - Federal agencies on Wednesday released plans for widespread distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses as soon as late this year or early next.
Three potential vaccines are currently in Stage 3 trials in the U.S. and could be ready in weeks, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
"Preparing for the implementation of the safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccine programs is a critical next step in the efforts to protect Americans and reduce the impact of COVID-19 and restore our normal way of life," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday.
Redfield updated Congress on the plan Wednesday morning before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
He said a vaccine should be available sometime between November and December but could take until the second or third quarter of 2021 to reach a sufficient supply. He also noted the effectiveness of face coverings to helping prevent the spread of the disease.
The distribution plan from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense, delivered to Congress Wednesday, says that the federal government will pay for the distribution and application of the vaccines through tax dollars - individuals would not be charged.
Initially, the vaccine will be made available to health care and other vital workers, as well as those most vulnerable. After production ramps up, it will be made available to all Americans who want it.