The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) vaccine advisory committee met Thursday and recommended emergency use authorization for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Full approval by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected by the weekend.

Thursday’s unanimous decision by the FDA committee marks two vaccines recommended for emergency authorization use in a period of one week. Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is deemed crucial in U.S. efforts to expand vaccine coverage across the country. The drug manufacturer says they will have 6 million doses ready to ship out before Christmas.

This latest vaccine provides more accessibility to smaller facilities, commercial pharmacies, and rural communities in the U.S. and around the world since it doesn’t require an extreme cold storage process. Pfizer’s vaccine which began shipping out last weekend must be kept at extremely cold temperatures in super freezers.

“The first step will be managing the logistics needs for the vaccine delivery and tracking including monitoring the temperature storage of the product,” said Kristopher Prickett, Tidal Basin’s Director of Healthcare Services. “Once the logistics are working, the important next step will be to convince the public the vaccines are safe,” he said.

The public health community is working around the clock to provide positive reinforcement of vaccine safety. On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence received the vaccine in public display. Prickett says the target is to convince between 50 to 80 percent of the public to take the vaccine in order to control the epidemic.

Several other vaccines are likely to be approved by the FDA in early 2021 and they are desperately needed as U.S. hospitalizations continue setting records this week — for the 12th day in row. The CDC is predicting an estimated 80,000 more people will pass away between now and first week of 2021 as a result of contracting COVID-19. As of Friday, the CDC says (December 18th) the U.S. was approaching 17 million cases of COVID-19 with nearly 310,000 deaths reported since January.

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