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Azar: First vaccinations could come Monday or Tuesday from Pfizer vaccine

Azar: First vaccinations could come Monday or Tuesday from Pfizer vaccine
© Greg Nash

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said that the first vaccinations outside of a clinical trial with the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine could come as soon as Monday or Tuesday. 

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to within days issue an emergency use authorization for the vaccine after an advisory panel to the agency voted to give it the green light on Thursday. 

The FDA indicated an authorization would come soon in a statement on Friday. 

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“Following yesterday’s positive advisory committee meeting outcome regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has informed the sponsor that it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization,” the FDA said. “The agency has also notified the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution.”

Azar said during an appearance on ABC that “we should be seeing the authorization of this first vaccine” in “the next couple of days.”

“We will work with Pfizer to get that shipped out, and so we could see people getting vaccinated Monday, Tuesday of next week,” he said. 

Officials have projected 20 million people in the U.S. could be vaccinated in December, between the Pfizer vaccine and one from Moderna, which is also expected to be authorized this month. 

Azar said Friday there could be a total of 100 million Americans vaccinated by the end of February.

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President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE kept up his pressure on the FDA over Twitter on Friday. 

“While my pushing the money drenched but heavily bureaucratic @US_FDA saved five years in the approval of NUMEROUS great new vaccines, it is still a big, old, slow turtle. Get the dam vaccines out NOW, Dr. Hahn @SteveFDA. Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!” Trump tweeted, tagging FDA Commissioner Stephen HahnStephen HahnRedfield says Azar pressured him to revise COVID-19 data reports The Hill's 12:30 Report - Biden's first official trip as president The Hill's Morning Report - With trial over, Biden renews push for COVID-19 bill MORE

The majority of Americans will not have access to the vaccine for several months, likely sometime in the spring. 

There are still brutal months ahead through the winter, as the virus is now claiming over 3,000 lives per day, and the spread is not expected to slow in the short term. 

Officials are urging the public to take precautions like wearing a mask and avoiding indoor gatherings at restaurants or at homes with several households until a vaccine is widely available.