In the United States, there is not yet an authorized or approved vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The federal government, through Operation Warp Speedexternal icon, has been working since the pandemic started to make one or more COVID-19 vaccines available as soon as possible. Although CDC does not have a role in developing COVID-19 vaccines, CDC has been working closely with health departments and partners to develop vaccination plans for when a vaccine is available. CDC is working with partners at all levels, including healthcare associations, on flexible COVID-19 vaccination programs that can accommodate different vaccines and scenarios.
Below are answers to commonly asked questions. Regular updates will be made as needed.
Planning for a Vaccine
The goal for Operation Warp Speedexternal icon is to deliver safe vaccines that work, with the first supply becoming available before the end of 2020. When a vaccine is authorized or approved in the United States, there may not be enough doses available for all adults. Supplies will increase over time, and all adults should be able to get vaccinated later in 2021. However, a COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for children until more studies are completed.
The federal government will oversee a centralized system to order, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines will be ordered through CDC. Vaccine providers will receive vaccines from CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.
Many COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in development, and clinical trials are being conducted at the same time with large-scale manufacturing. With first doses expected before the end of 2020, planning and preparing for a COVID-19 vaccination program is very important.
Planning efforts have focused on every step and detail of the process, including:
- Establishing and testing logistics plans with manufacturers and commercial partners that are part of CDC’s centralized COVID-19 vaccine delivery system
- Coordinating the first distribution of vaccines and needed supplies from centralized locations
- Ordering processes for additional doses of the vaccine after the first supply has been shipped
- Receiving, storing, and handling vaccines properly at very specific temperatures
- Deciding who should receive a vaccine first, based on national recommendations, if there are not enough doses of the vaccine for everyone
- Giving the vaccines in a safe way during an ongoing pandemic
- Reporting on vaccine inventory, administration, and safety using a variety of new and enhanced data systems
- Expanding safety surveillance through new systems and additional information sources, as well as scaling up existing safety monitoring systems
- Developing plans to assess vaccine effectiveness, which means how well the vaccines protect against COVID-19 under real-life conditions
- Making sure timely, credible, and clear communication is provided to the public and stakeholders around all aspects of the vaccination program
This situation continues to change, and planning will progress as more information about any authorized or approved vaccines becomes available. A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the U.S. strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths and to help society function as it did before COVID-19. The goal of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for all people in the United States who choose to be vaccinated.
State, tribal, territorial, and local jurisdictions: CDC is working with state, tribal, territorial, and local jurisdictions on the development of COVID-19 vaccination plans for their respective areas. CDC released a playbook on September 16, 2020, to provide specific information to consider during vaccination plan development. The playbookpdf icon was updated on October 30, 2020.
Private partners and federal agencies: CDC has also worked with private partners, such as chain and networks of independent pharmacies, and other federal agencies (e.g., the Indian Health Service) on plans to more widely distribute COVID-19 vaccines. For example, CDC is working with pharmacies to offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination services for residents in long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities where most individuals are over 65 years of age.
No, CDC is not leading a national campaign on COVID-19 vaccination. CDC’s vaccination activities fit within and are guided by a Vaccinate with Confidence strategic framework. This strategic framework focuses on strengthening vaccine confidence and preventing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. It builds on longstanding practices that CDC and partners have used to talk with the public and healthcare providers about the life-saving protection of vaccines.
The Vaccinate with Confidence strategic framework is being customized to address the unique information and health equity needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Vaccinate with Confidence for COVID-19 strategic framework will strive to support public and healthcare personnel acceptance of future COVID-19 vaccines. CDC will provide updates once the new strategic framework is completed.
CDC is working with partners across the country to make sure people have the information they need to be confident in deciding to get vaccinated. Key priorities for CDC are:
- Regularly sharing clear and accurate information with people to make sure they understand the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated and can make informed decisions.
- Helping healthcare personnel feel confident in their decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine and helping healthcare providers answer their patients’ questions about the vaccine.
- Engaging communities and individuals in an equitable and inclusive way to ensure that people have opportunities to ask questions and get clear, accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Easy access to COVID-19 vaccines is equally critical. CDC is working with public health, healthcare providers, and other partners to make sure people can easily get a COVID-19 vaccine and that cost is not a barrier.
When FDA first authorizes or approves the use of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, there may be a limited supply. This would mean that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. It is understandable how concerning this would be for people, especially for those who are at increased risk for serious illness from this virus and for their loved ones.
That is why, early in the response, the federal government began investing in select vaccine manufacturersexternal icon to help them increase their ability to quickly make and distribute a large amount of COVID-19 vaccine. This will allow the United States to start with as much vaccine as possible and continually increase the supply in the weeks and months to follow. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. Several thousand vaccination providers will be available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
You should cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. Get more information about these and other steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.