WASHINGTON—The Department of Defense confirmed on Dec. 2 that 20 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will likely be distributed later this month.
Americans who receive the vaccination will be issued a COVID-19 vaccine record card, which will also serve as a reminder for their next dose, officials said. The vaccines currently under consideration require two doses.
Manufacturers of three vaccines have filed for emergency-use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will meet on Dec. 10 to review the first application by Pfizer. The UK approved the Pfizer vaccine for use on Dec. 2.
The FDA will take up Moderna’s application on Dec. 17.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in July that his agency would greenlight a vaccine as long as it’s safe and at least 50 percent effective. Vaccine manufacturers have so far claimed their products are more than 94 percent effective.
Following FDA approval, “distribution to the American people becomes immediate within 24 hours—that’s our goal,” said Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, at a Dec. 2 press conference.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar encouraged Americans to educate themselves about the vaccines and the approval process.
”These vaccine products will be assessed with the same rigor that Americans can expect when it comes to any other vaccine or drug that is reviewed by the FDA,” he said.
Vaccines aren’t subject to the same controls as pharmaceutical drugs, which must go through the more scientifically rigorous process of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Instead, vaccines are usually tested against another vaccine and aren’t compared against a non-vaccinated group.
The COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are immune from liability for any injury their vaccines may cause; however, Health and Human Services has a voluntary reporting system for injuries.
Officials said they expect to distribute 20 million doses in December, 60 million in January, and 100 million by February.
Some states are looking at the possibility of making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory, or at least implementing punitive measures that make it difficult to avoid one, while some businesses will start requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination for service.
Concert ticket website TicketMaster announced in November that it’s working on technology that would allow event organizers to require customers to provide proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or other approved vetting methods before releasing tickets.
In Australia, the CEO of the country’s main airline, Qantas, said on Nov. 30 that airline passengers would need to prove that they’ve been vaccinated against the virus. Alan Joyce said he’s been talking to “colleagues in other airlines around the globe” and the mandatory vaccination rule will be “a common theme across the board.”
Airlines and governments around the world are working on the comprehensive technology and logistics required to implement an electronic “vaccination passport” that will certify what vaccines a traveler has had and if that’s acceptable to the country to which the person is traveling.
“The airlines and the governments are working on this as we speak,” Joyce told Nine’s “A Current Affair.”
In Denmark, the government had to abandon a new law that would mandate a COVID-19 vaccination after citizens took to the streets, banging pots and pans in protest.
The updated Epidemic Act had given the government an unprecedented amount of power, including the ability to “access a person’s home with the police assistance without prior court order,” and “use police assistance to isolate, examine or treat a person who is infected or believed to be infected with one of the communicable diseases listed in the appendix to the Act,” according to a blog post by Janne Rothmar Herrmann, a professor of the University of Copenhagen.
In Israel, the health minister is considering a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine law to address a percentage of Israelis unwilling to vaccinate, although the country has one of the highest immunization rates, according to The Jerusalem Post.
In the United Kingdom, politicians are divided on the concept of a “vaccine passport” that would be required for people to access eateries and entertainment venues. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Nov. 24 that he hoped to “inoculate the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter.”
Caden Pearson, Meiling Lee, and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.