The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, gave the final go-ahead Sunday for the first coronavirus vaccine in the United States, clearing the way for start the vaccination.
Redfield accepted the recommendation of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that the Pfizer and BioNTech covid-19 vaccine can be given to people over 16 years of age.
The first vaccines are expected to be administered this Monday.
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“This official CDC recommendation follows the FDA’s decision on Friday to authorize emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the United States, the CDC’s recommendation comes at a critical time, ”Redfield said in a statement.
The initial vaccination against covid-19 is scheduled to begin on Monday, and this is the next step in our efforts to protect Americans, reduce the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, and help restore some normalcy to our lives and in our country.
Distribution of the vaccine begins in the US.
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The first cargo trucks with approximately 184,275 vials of the vaccine left Pfizer’s facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday.
“They will start moving the vaccine from Pfizer’s manufacturing facilities to UPS and FedEx centers, and then it will be shipped to all 636 locations across the country, which were identified by states and territories,” Gen. Gustave Perna said, Operation Warp Speed’s chief operating officer said at a news conference Saturday.
“We expect 145 sites in every state to receive the vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday, completing the initial delivery of Pfizer vaccine orders,” added Perna.
Shipments are made after days of meetings and decisions by public health and regulatory officials.
The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines on Friday, following a recommendation made Thursday by the agency’s vaccine advisers.
“Science and data guided the FDA’s decision,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said at a news conference Saturday morning.
“We believe that that transparency, as well as the rigorous scientific review that we have conducted, goes a long way toward bringing confidence to the American people and the FDA and this vaccine.”
Following the FDA’s decision, CDC vaccine advisers voted Saturday to recommend that the CDC approve the vaccine for use in the United States and add it to the vaccine schedule.
Authorization from the CDC on Sunday made those recommendations official.
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During Saturday’s meeting, ACIP members heard presentations on people’s willingness to get the vaccine, who should and who shouldn’t get it, and how it will be communicated to healthcare providers and the general public.
ACIP members said Saturday that their evaluation of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was independent and transparent.
“I think the process we have used here at ACIP to reach this decision is transparent, science-based, fair-minded, and is, at this time, the best we can do,” said the ACIP member. , Dr. Beth Bell, clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington.
Several committee members said they would get vaccinated and recommend it to their family members.
“I mean I voted in favor of the vaccine because of the clear evidence of its efficacy / safety profile and benefit / risk profile, based on our evidence and policy framework,” said Dr. Peter Szilagyi, University pediatrician. from California Los Angeles and an ACIP member immediately after the committee vote.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 16 million cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 300,000 people have died from the virus.
“Much work remains to be done, but it is a very important step,” Messonnier said.
“ACIP determined that covid-19 is a major public health problem and that the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against covid-19 is a reasonable and efficient allocation of resources,” committee members wrote in a report issued by the CDC this Sunday along with the one of Redfield when closing session.
“While there may be uncertainty about how all populations value the vaccine, it was found that for most populations, the desirable effects outweigh the undesirable effects.”
Whats Next? This will be the initial vaccination plan in the US.
Now the complex process of distribution of vaccines throughout the country is underway.
Leaders of Operation Warp Speed say it split US delivery between FedEx and UPS, which will transport the vaccines to hospitals and pharmacies. Approximately 2.9 million vaccinations will go to the first in line to receive vaccines: healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
Suitcase-sized containers containing the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine have already started leaving the Pfizer facility in Michigan. They are packed with dry ice to keep the delicate vaccine at the extremely cold temperatures it requires.
The U.S. Army general in charge of distributing America’s first coronavirus vaccines said Saturday that he is confident it will be done safely, even if it isn’t done perfectly.
“I am absolutely, 100% confident that we are going to safely distribute this precious commodity, this vaccine necessary to defeat the enemy, Covid,” said Perna of Operation Warp Speed.
“Many of you want to know who will get the first vaccine. And as I leave that up to the experts at the Health and Human Services organization, I remind you of this: Nearly 100,000 Americans have already rolled up their sleeves and participated in clinical trials across the United States. They were the true first recipients of the vaccine, “added Perna.
“We will work hard over the next few days to make sure these first shipments go very well.”
– CNN’s Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.