US unveils plan to provide free coronavirus vaccine to ‘every American’


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While the US waits for one or more COVID-19 vaccines to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the federal government released an outline Wednesday detailing how it intends to make those drugs available so that “every American who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can receive one.” 

The joint Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense report to Congress (PDF) indicates that vaccines will be administered “with the goal of no upfront costs to providers and no out-of-pocket cost to the vaccine recipient,” meaning vaccines should be available free of charge for anyone who wants one.

The outline lays out a strategy for identifying “priority populations” during the early stages, when vaccine supplies may be constrained, then gradually ramping up until the vaccine is widely available. This process is expected to begin in January 2021 with about 100 million doses of vaccine. 

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A companion document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that “limited COVID-19 vaccine doses may be available by early November 2020 if a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized or licensed by FDA by that time, but COVID-19 vaccine supply may increase substantially in 2021.”

Currently, there are seven vaccine candidates being tested in the US, three of which are nearing the final stages needed for FDA approval.

In a recent Associated Press poll, one in five Americans said they would refuse a coronavirus vaccine, while almost a third of respondents said they were unsure about getting one. About half of those polled said they would get a vaccine if one were to be approved.