COVID-19 Vaccine: Estimated Distribution Timeline

An effective vaccine seems to be the need of the hour to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 vaccines are created to prevent individuals from getting COVID-19 and from spreading it to others.

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to curb the pandemic. However, the vaccines are currently only available in limited doses. Policymakers have formulated a timeline to ensure that the most vulnerable get access to the vaccines first. Below is the current timeline, subject to change based on the availability of the vaccines:

Mid-December 2020

The vaccines were administered to healthcare workers working in high-risk environments at hospitals that treat the most number of COVID-19 patients.

Late December 2020-January 2021

From late December 2020 through January 2021, the vaccines will be made available to:

  • healthcare workers in high-risk environments at remaining hospitals that didn’t receive the first dose of the vaccine
  • healthcare personnel at places like tribal health facilities, healthcare clinics, skilled nursing facilities, pharmacies, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities
  • other healthcare workers who are at a higher risk of falling severely ill due to COVID-19
  • public health workers, EMS, tribal public health workers, tribal EMS, and first responders
  • K-12 school staff

February 2021-March 2021

The vaccine supply would increase between February and March, and more people would be able to get vaccinated. The vaccines will be administered to essential workers, long-term care facility staff, and residents who haven’t received the shot.

March 2021-July 2021

Authorities expect the vaccines to become available to the general public between March 2021 and July 2021. They’ll likely be available through routine vaccination programs at public health sites, as well as additional private partner sites.

More vaccines are likely to get authorized in 2021. Although vaccines are available, the public must continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing, maintain hand hygiene, and stay at home if they show any COVID-19 symptoms to prevent the virus from spreading.