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Federal health officials are urging states to get ready for coronavirus vaccine distribution by Nov. 1, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO.
The letter from CDC Director Robert Redfield to governors is the latest indication that the Trump administration is preparing to deliver on the president's promise for a coronavirus vaccine this year. But it's unclear if any vaccine could be ready by Nov. 1, just two days before Election Day.
The CDC and HHS “are rapidly making preparations to implement large-scale distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines in the fall of 2020,” Redfield wrote. Redfield said his agency has contracted with McKesson Corp. to distribute coronavirus vaccines to state and local health departments and other facilities, and he "urgently" asked states to assemble a "fully operational" plan for providing vaccines to the public. He promised that any preparations "will not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed.”
However, that timeline appears more optimistic than the one set by vaccine-makers. Three pharmaceutical companies have recently entered the final stage of clinical trials, which can take months. Definitive results about whether the shots work aren't expected until the end of the year.
A CDC spokesperson did not immediately respond to request for comment. The Redfield letter, dated Aug. 27, was first reported by McClatchy.
The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for reviewing and approving any vaccine candidates, has tried to shake off fears that President Donald Trump will pressure the agency into approving a vaccine this fall to boost his reelection chances. FDA officials in recent weeks have insisted they will not approve or authorize a shot before it is deemed safe and effective.