U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was in Memphis Thursday to discuss Operation Warp Speed progress and relay details of the federal government’s plan to team with FedEx to distribute vaccines as soon as they become available.
Watch Pence speak at the roundtable in the player above.
Speaking at a roundtable in an airport hangar alongside FedEx Chairman Fred Smith, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Pence said “help is on the way.”
The vice president said we are just a matter “of days away from when we will begin to distribute tens of millions of doses of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine to the American people.”
Pence said vaccines would be ready for distribution 24 hours after approval by the Food and Drug Administration, expected to happen in the coming weeks.
Secretary Azar said 6.4 million Pfizer vaccine doses and 12.5 million Moderna vaccine doses will be available in the first week of distribution, and doses for 20 million people would be available by the end of December.
But CDC head Dr. Redfield said despite the record progress, he’s most concerned about those who refuse to get vaccinated because of skepticism that it’s safe.
“It’s really sad as an infectious disease physician to see many people choose to leave vaccination on the shelf for themselves, their family and the community,” Redfield said. And he urged those at the table as well as the American public to help “create a culture in this nation that’s grounded in vaccine confidence.”
Redfield also implored the public to take all necessary safety precautions said while the nation waits for the vaccine, including wearing a mask, which he held up.
“We are not defenseless,” he said. “This actually works.”