US Working on Free Covid-19 Vaccines

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HOUSTON (AP) — The federal government outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans.

However, polls are showing more and more Americans are growing skeptical about the virus and a vaccine.

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In a report to Congress, federal health agencies and the Defense Department are working on plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or possibly later this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot. The Pentagon is involved with the distribution of vaccines, but civilian health workers will be the ones giving shots.

Among the highlights:

– For most vaccines, people will need two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Double-dose vaccines will have to come from the same drug-maker. There could be several vaccines from different manufacturers approved and available.

– Initially there may be a limited supply of vaccines available, and the focus will be on protecting health workers, other essential employees, and people in vulnerable groups. The National Academy of Medicine is working on priorities for the first phase. A second and third phase would expand vaccination to the entire country.

– The vaccine itself will be free of charge, and patients won’t be charged out of pocket for the administration of shots, thanks to billions of dollars in taxpayer funding approved by Congress and allocated by the Trump administration.

– States and local communities will need to devise precise plans for receiving and locally distributing vaccines, some of which will require special handling such as refrigeration or freezing. States and cities have a month to submit plans. But the whole enterprise is facing public skepticism. Only about half of Americans said they’d get vaccinated in an Associated Press poll taken in May. Of those who would not get vaccinated, the overwhelming majority said they were worried about safety.

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