How COVID-19 Vaccines Get to You

Vaccine manufacturers; the federal government; state, local, and territorial jurisdictions; and other partners are working to make sure safe and effective vaccines are getting to you as quickly as possible. This page will help you understand the key steps in this important process and how CDC is tracking vaccine distribution, delivery, and administration throughout the United States.

Vaccine manufacturing

Vaccine manufacturing is complicated, and it can take months to make and package vaccines. Additionally, vaccines have to go through quality controlexternal icon testing during each and every step of their journey to make sure they are both safe and effective for use.

Vaccine allocation

Specific amounts of COVID-19 vaccine doses are made available (allocated) to jurisdictions* based on the number of people 18 years or older in the jurisdiction in proportion to the entire U.S. population. For the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which require receiving two doses to maximize immunity, allocations are split in two: 1) first-dose quantities that have already been released to the U.S. government and are under federal control at the time of allocation; and 2) additional doses that are still being manufactured and are not under federal control at the time of allocation. These doses are allocated but will be released at a future date so that communities can get second dose supplies.

Vaccine ordering

Based on their allocation, jurisdictions and other federal and commercial partners order vaccines from the federal government using CDC’s vaccine ordering system, Vaccine Tracking System (VTrckS). Jurisdictions can order all or a portion of their weekly allocation. Any leftover doses are rolled over to the next week’s allocation.

Vaccine shipping

After vaccines are made, allocated, and ordered, they are shipped and delivered to vaccination providers such as health departments, hospitals, and pharmacies.

Vaccine administration

After delivery, vaccine doses must then be given (administered) to the people who need them. The vaccine administration process requires strong cooperation and partnership among all the people working together at the federal, jurisdictional, and local levels to make sure people have access to and receive all recommended doses of vaccine. Health departments work with people in their jurisdictions to safely schedule appointments according to each jurisdiction’s vaccination plan. Health departments also work with providers and clinics to make sure they are ready to administer vaccines safely and efficiently. Retail pharmacies, long-term care facilities, and federal vaccination provider sites work with their staff and clients or patients to schedule vaccination appointments and administer doses.