CDC director: COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out second week in December

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine would be released “by the end of the second week of December.”

During a segment on Fox News, Redfield was asked by "The Daily Briefing" host Dana Perino how government agencies would determine who received the vaccine first.

“I think it's really important. First, it's, you know, exceptional that we have these vaccines. And it's very exciting. And, again, it just reinforces why I want people to be vigilant because we're turning the corner now. You don't want to be the last group to end up getting COVID, because the vaccine is going to begin to be rolled out probably by the end of the second week of December,” Redfield said.

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The CDC director said that there will be a hierarchy to who will receive the vaccine first based on risk and exposure.  

“Initially, in a hierarchical way, nursing home residents and then some combination of health care providers and individuals at high risk for a poor outcome. And those decisions are in the process of being finalized as we speak.”

Health officials have previously stated that the vaccine will likely not be widely available to the public until the middle of next year.

“I do think we'll have about 40 million doses of vaccine before the end of the first year” Redfield added, noting that that amount would immunize 20 million people.

The White House reportedly wants to be able to provide a vaccine for 300 million people.

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The companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have announced that their vaccine candidates have proven to be effective in preventing contraction of the disease.

Last week, Pfizer applied for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its vaccine, and Moderna is expected to do the same by the end of the month.

An FDA advisory committee will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the Pfizer and BioNTech application for an emergency use authorization for their candidate as well. 

On Sunday, chief adviser to the White House's COVID-19 vaccine development team, Moncef Slaoui, said people could begin receiving vaccinations as soon as 48 hours after a vaccine is approved.

News of the vaccine distribution comes at a critical moment for the United States. The country is averaging more than 1 million new cases of the coronavirus every week and the number of cases continue to surge as colder temperatures set in.

In addition, health officials have fervently warned people in the U.S. against traveling for the upcoming holidays, saying the widespread travel could make the pandemic worse.