COVID-19: U.S. preps for vaccine distribution
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As COVID-19 vaccine candidates Moderna and Pfizer request emergency use authorization, the U.S. is preparing for possible vaccine distribution in the coming weeks.

Officials expect the first batch of vaccines to be ready by mid-late December, but health officials warn, the U.S. still faces a rough winter ahead, as new infections keep rising across the country.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says a COVID-19 vaccine won't be widely available to the general public until April or May 2021.

On Tuesday, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel is meeting to determine who should get the vaccine first.

It is expected health-care workers and nursing home residents will be a part of the first immunized.

After the advisory group determines who will be among the first vaccines, those recommendations must be approved by the director of the CDC and the Health and Human Services Secretary. If approved, the recommendations then become official CDC guidance. 

Individual states must submit their plans for initial vaccine distribution to the federal government by December 4th.

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump's coronavirus vaccine czar, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, said both vaccine candidates are safe but might have noticeable side effects in up to 15% of the recipients. Both vaccines will also require two doses about a month apart to be fully effective.

Side effects include pain where the vaccine was injected, fever, chills muscle aches and headaches.

Slaoui also said, although the long-term effects of the vaccine are still unknown, health officials will be monitoring vaccine safety.

"It will be very important for the most susceptible parts of our population get these vaccines. And we will be looking at the safety of these vaccines in real life through very elaborate ... processes and report on it on an ongoing basis."

With more than 13.6 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 270,000 deaths early Tuesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University, public health officials are warning holiday gatherings will aggravate the spread of the virus.

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