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COVID-19 vaccine shots to be shipped within 24 hours of approval, CDC says

A health worker holds blood samples during clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida.
A health worker holds blood samples during clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Preparations are underway to ensure that vaccines against COVID-19 will be shipped to administration sites within 24 hours of clearance by U.S. regulators, health officials said.

Federal officials issued guidance to states Wednesday that are designed to speed the path of coronavirus shots to the population, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield said in a press conference.

Hundreds of thousands of doses of various candidates, funded by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program, have already been produced in hope that one or more will prove successful in the clinic. State officials have indicated that they want to make sure that the shots are fully tested and deemed safe and effective before they’re used widely.

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The Trump administration has floated the idea of releasing a vaccine to some parts of the public based on limited data, before trials are done, and officials have told states to begin preparing to distribute a vaccine as early as Nov. 1.

Operation Warp Speed named McKesson Corp. to serve as the central distributor of both vaccines and related supplies needed to administer them, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in August.

The Warp Speed officials assured once again that any Covid-19 vaccine and its administration would be offered to the American public for free.

“No American has to pay a single dime out of pocket for a vaccine,” said Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Fees for the shot would be covered by commercial insurers, Medicaid, among other entities, and the government is still working out how to cover a small, $3 dollar fee potentially required by Medicare fee-for-service programs, he said.