(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — With the world waiting with bated breath over when a potential vaccine will be made readily available to the masses, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says people may not have to wait too much longer.
“If all goes well, we could be distributing vaccines soon after December 10,” Azar said of the vaccine that has come from Pfizer, noting that FDA authorization is mandatory for its distribution. Should the Pfizer vaccine receive approval from the FDA, Azar says the vaccines will be distributed within 48 hours.
Pfizer applied for emergency authorization last week and a hearing has since been set for December 10.
Should the FDA grant approval, the vaccine will not hit the general population first — instead it will be sent to high risk Americans such as those in elderly care facilities. In addition, first line workers like health care providers will also be among the first to receive the vaccine.
However, some health officials are turning toward a potential problem — what if Americans do not trust the vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with public health leaders, are hard at work to find ways to tackle the potential issue. Azar notes that, currently, there are plans for an education campaign that will discuss the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
Azar added that he will also help build the public’s trust in the Pfizer vaccine, promising, “I will get myself vaccinated as soon as I will be allowed to be vaccinated, to demonstrate to the American people my complete confidence in the independence and integrity of the process and the quality of any vaccine that I would make available to the American people.”
Still, health officials warn against Americans developing a sense of security now that a vaccine could be made available.
Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, says it’s critical that Americans continue to practice social distancing and wear masks. In addition, he advised that a negative COVID test should not be viewed as permission to carry on as normal.
“Please remember that a negative test today does not mean you will be negative tomorrow or in a few days afterwards,” said Giroir. “We know that a single test can provide false senses of security. You still have to wear your mask and everything else.”