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COVID vaccine: Distribution timeline

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – “If there was no shortage it would be available at your Walgreens tomorrow,” Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine, said. 

Medical experts say there’s no question there’s currently a shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine.  

That’s why governments across the world are creating a priority list to determine who gets the first batch of available doses. 

Getting enough doses to get everyone vaccinated will take some time.

“To get through the first priority groups, that is health care workers, nursing homes, people over 65, people with a coexisting disease that make them high risk and essential workers, if you do that it puts you at 144 million people, we will have enough vaccines to vaccinate 144 million people in March or April,” Dr. Wachter said. 

But with 330 million Americans in the U.S., that means by spring more than half will still not have received the vaccine.  

“I think it will be available to the average person who is at no particular risk at Walgreens and CVS probably in April and I think it’s probably not until April and May until there are enough vaccines for everybody,” Dr. Wachter said. 

Dr. Wachter says that timelines speed up if additional vaccines are approved, or slows down if the distribution process hits a bottleneck but he says likely all Americans who want the vaccine should be able to get it by summer.

Distributing the vaccine and getting people in the right priority group still needs to be worked out, though medical experts say large hospitals and local pharmacies will likely play a major role in that.

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