The federal government has told states to prepare for a coronavirus vaccine to be ready to distribute by Nov. 1.
In a letter to governors dated Aug. 27, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said states “in the near future” will receive permit applications from McKesson Corp., which has contracted with CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.
“CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020,” Redfield wrote.
He wrote that any waivers will not compromise the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine. The Associated Press obtained the letter, which was first reported by McClatchy.
Redfield told Yahoo Finance that officials were preparing “for what I anticipate will be reality, is that there’ll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December.”
James S. Blumenstock, a senior vice president at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said the CDC was offering “an aggressive but necessary timetable” but that public health agencies were mobilizing to prepare detailed plans.
Several vaccine and public health experts pointed out that final stage trials of experimental vaccines are still recruiting, and are at best halfway through that process. The vaccines are two doses, and each is given a month apart.
Some states on Wednesday said they were working on next steps while still awaiting details from CDC.
New Mexico Human Service Secretary David Scrase said the state was preparing to administer coronavirus vaccines on a limited basis starting in November to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. The broad public vaccine roll-out is slated for January. He said current vaccine provider networks are robust and adequate for the COVID-19 effort.
A spokesman for Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said the state was reviewing its next steps.
“News of a vaccine is encouraging and a testament to the power of American innovation,” said the spokesman, Gillum Ferguson.