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COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: The Process

On April 13, 2021, the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine as they review data.

The federal government has been working since the pandemic started to develop, manufacture, and distribute safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccinations began on December 14, 2020.

Authorization

Prioritization

Allocation

Distribution

Authorization

On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged 16 years and older for the prevention of COVID-19.

On December 18, 2020, FDA issued the second EUA for use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged 18 years and older for the prevention of COVID-19.

On February 27, 2021, FDA issued the third EUA for use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged 18 years and older for the prevention of COVID-19.

Other COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in development, and clinical trials are currently being conducted.

Prioritization

After the FDA authorizes a vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends who should be vaccinated first, second, third, etc. in the United States while supplies are limited. For the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends prioritizing healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities to receive the vaccination first.

Then, each state, tribe, and territory develops its own plan for deciding which groups of people will be vaccinated first and following groups.

As of March 2, 2021, the Acting Secretary has directed that teachers, school staff, and child care workers are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Acting Secretary has issued a directive to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Americans by May 1, 2021.

Allocation

Specific amounts of COVID-19 vaccine doses are made available to states and jurisdictions. Shipments of an FDA-authorized safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines continue to arrive at sites across America.

Tribal health programs and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) can decide to receive vaccines either through the Indian Health Service (IHS) or through the State. To better understand the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native, HHS initiated tribal consultation in September 2020 to seek input from tribal leaders on COVID-19 vaccination planning for Indian Country.

Distribution

Distribution of FDA-authorized vaccines begin 24 hours after the Emergency Use Authorization. The first deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines began December 14, 2020. State and local health departments have the best information about when, where, and how to get a COVID-19 vaccine in your area.


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Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed