Officials expect to begin vaccinating Americans against the coronavirus early next week, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“We could see people getting vaccinated Monday, Tuesday of next week,” Azar said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday.
Azar’s comments come after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Thursday voted in favor of issuing a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech an emergency use authorization.
Cartoons on the Coronavirus
The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 17-4 with one person abstaining that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for individuals 16 years of age and older.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said Friday that the agency is “rapidly” working on issuing an emergency use authorization.
“Following yesterday’s positive advisory committee meeting outcome regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has informed the sponsor that it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization,” Hahn said in a statement. “The agency has also notified the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution.”
But President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday to criticize the FDA, calling it a “big, old, slow turtle” and urging Hahn to “get the dam vaccines out NOW.”
Federal officials have said they plan to vaccinate 20 million people in December and 100 million by the end of February.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee recommended earlier this month that health care workers and long-term care facility residents be the first to get the shots.