The Centers for Disease Control has urged governors to be prepared for the distribution of avaccine by November 1, which is two days before Election Day.
CDC Director Robert Redfield sent the letter dated August 27 to governors, informing them that the government is contracting with the company McKesson to distribute the vaccine to local health departments and doctors' offices and asked them to expedite any applications for distribution facilities requested by the company. CBS News has obtained a copy of the letter, first reported by McClatchy news service.
"CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020," the letter reads. "The requirements you may be asked to waive in order to expedite vaccine distribution will not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed."
Mr. Trump has floated the possibility that a vaccine could ready for distribution by the election or soon after, although most medical experts do not expect widespread vaccinations until 2021.
"I'm optimistic that it'll be probably around that date. I believe we'll have the vaccine before the end of the year, certainly, but around that date, yes, I think so," Mr. Trump said in early August.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also described a scenario under which a vaccine might be ready earlier than initially expected. In an interview with Kaiser Health News published Tuesday, he said if clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines produce results that are overwhelmingly positive, scientists would have a "moral obligation" to and offer the vaccine to all participants in the study, speeding up the process to make it more widely available. That decision would be made by a Data and Safety Monitoring Board, which is composed of research experts who review data from clinical trials.
Polling shows many Americans are skeptical of a potential coronavirus vaccine. A recent CBS News poll shows only 30% say they would get one "as soon as possible." Many more, half of the country, say they would consider it, but would first "wait to see" what happened to others.
Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.