HHS outlines plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccine

HHS released an outline  Sept. 16 of how Operation Warp Speed plans to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to the general public. 

The document, "From the Factory to the Frontlines: The Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine," is a preliminary outline, and details depend on which vaccines prove effective and when they are approved. 

"We’re dealing in a world of great uncertainty. We don’t know the timing of when we’ll have a vaccine, we don’t know the quantities, we don’t know the efficacy," HHS Deputy Chief of Staff Paul Mango told reporters, according to The Hill. "The message we’re trying to leave you with is we are prepared for all of those uncertainties."

CDC Director Robert Redfield described the outline as "interim operation guidance" to help states, tribes and territories prepare for vaccine planning, Endpoints News reported. 

Mr. Mango said the outline covers early distribution during a period when the number of vaccines will be limited. 

Jurisdictions are asked to develop "microplans" that will identify vaccination sites and other logistical considerations. The microplans will need to be flexible to allow adaptation as more information about the specific characteristics of the vaccines becomes available, the outline states. 

The vaccine will be free to Americans, according to the document. There may be a $3.50 charge to people with Medicare fee-for-service plans, but HHS said it's working to eliminate that. The agency plans to begin shipping the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. 

The outline doesn't say which groups would get priority to receive the vaccine. Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, assistant secretary of the Army's acquisition, logistics and technology division, said prioritization can only be determined after phase 3 vaccine trials or when the FDA approves a vaccine, according to Endpoints News. 


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