WASHINGTON — Even as private companies rush to test a coronavirus vaccine and both federal and state governments prepare for a massive distribution effort, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Wednesday that mass vaccination of the American public is still many months away.
“I think that’s going to take us April, May, June, you know, possibly July, to get the entire American public completely vaccinated,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Senate health and education committee in a Wednesday hearing.
Hopes are running high for a vaccine that will allow Americans to return to normal economic and social activity. Those hopes have been stoked by President Trump himself, who has promised a vaccine as early as October. Most public health experts do not believe that is a realistic promise, even though four vaccine candidates are currently undergoing human trials.
Redfield angered Trump last week by saying that wearing a mask was potentially a better anti-coronavirus weapon than a vaccine, which he said then — as he did on Wednesday — would not become widely available until late spring or summer of 2021.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that,” Trump said in response to Redfield’s statement at the time. “It’s just incorrect information and I called him and he didn’t tell me that and I think he got the message maybe confused, maybe it was stated incorrectly.”