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US Government Announces Mega Plan to Provide Freely Available COVID-19 Vaccines to All Americans

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WASHINGTON: The federal government outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 accessible for free to all Americans, even as polls show a strong undercurrent of disbelief rippling throughout the land.

In a report to Congress and an accompanying”playbook” for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin slowly in January or possibly later this year, finally ramping up to reach some American who wants a shot. The Pentagon is concerned with the supply of vaccines, but civilian health workers will be the ones providing shots.

The effort is “much larger in extent and complexity than seasonal flu or other previous outbreak-related vaccination responses,” said the playbook for states in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the highlights:

— For most vaccines, people will require two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Double-dose vaccines might need to come in the same drugmaker. There might be several vaccines from different manufacturers approved and accessible.

— Vaccination of the U.S. population will not be a sprint but a marathon. Initially, there might be a limited supply of vaccines available, and the focus will be on protecting health workers, other workers that are essential, and individuals in vulnerable groups. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the National Academy of Medicine, and other associations are focusing on priorities for its initial stage. A second and third stage would expand Vaccination to the whole nation.

— The vaccine itself will be free of charge, and patients won’t be billed out of pocket for the administration of shots, thanks to billions of dollars in taxpayer funding approved by Congress and endorsed by the Trump administration.

— States and local communities will need to devise precise plans for receiving and locally dispersing vaccines, some of which will require special handlings such as refrigeration or freezing. States and towns have a month to submit programs.

Some of the broad components of the national program have been discussed, but Wednesday’s reports attempt to place the key details into a comprehensive framework. Distribution is happening beneath the umbrella of Operation Warp Speed, a White House-backed initiative to get millions of doses prepared to ship once a vaccine is given what is expected to become an emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Several formulations are undergoing final trials.

But the entire enterprise is confronting public skepticism. Just about half of Americans said they would get vaccinated in an Associated Press poll taken in May. Of those who wouldn’t get vaccinated, the overwhelming majority said they were concerned about security. To efficiently protect the country from the coronavirus, experts say upwards of 70 percent of Americans should be vaccinated or have their own immunity from fighting COVID-19.

Since the poll, questions have just mounted about whether the government is attempting to rush COVID-19 treatments and vaccines to help President Donald Trump’s reelection chances.

Ahead of the Republican National Convention in August, the FDA granted consent for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with plasma from people who have recovered, even though some government scientists weren’t convinced the clinical signs was sufficiently strong. And it was reported that Michael Caputo, a Health and Human Services Department political appointee, attempted to gain editorial control on a weekly scientific book in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As public confidence in core health bureaus has taken a beating, Trump government officials have been forced to play defense.

“We’re working closely with our state and local public health partners… to ensure that Americans can get the vaccine when feasible vaccinate with confidence,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement Wednesday. “Americans should know that the vaccine development procedure is being driven entirely by science along with the information.”

That could be a tough sell. From the AP poll, 1 in 5 Americans said they would not find a coronavirus vaccine, and 31 percent said they were uncertain.

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TVLine Items: 16 and Pregnant Returns, Mr. Mercedes on Peacock and More

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There’s another baby boom at MTV: 16 and Pregnant, which last aired in 2014, will return for a reimagined six-episode season on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 9/8c.

The new take on the popular docuseries follows “the unexpected pregnancy journey from multiple perspectives, not just from the young mother,” per MTV’s release. “Intimate video confessionals from members of each family will allow the series to more substantively explore the lives of those impacted by the experience, with honesty and empathy.” Watch a promo above.

16 and Pregnant first launched in 2009 and later gave birth to several spinoffs, including Teen Mom OG, Teen Mom 2 and Teen Mom: Young + Pregnant.

Ready for more of today’s newsy nuggets? Well…

* The first two seasons of Audience Network’s Mr. Mercedes, based on the Stephen King trilogy, will begin streaming on Peacock on Thursday, Oct. 15

* Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas have joined A World of Calm, HBO Max’s 10-episode “immersive visual” series that “combines mesmeric imagery with narration by A-list stars,” and premieres Thursday, Oct. 1. The duo join previously announced narrators Mahershala Ali, Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Lucy Liu, Cillian Murphy and Keanu Reeves.

* Black Narcissus, a limited series based on the best-selling novel by Rumer Godden — about a group of nuns to aim to inhabit a mysterious clifftop palace — will release all three episodes on FX on Monday, Nov. 23 at 8/7c. The cast includes the late Diana Rigg (Games of Thrones). Watch trailer:

* Amazon Prime has released a trailer for Small Axe, its upcoming anthology series from Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave). Premiering Friday, Nov. 20, the five-episode project tells personal stories from London’s West Indian community in the late 1960s through mid-1980s.

Which of today’s TVLine Items pique your interest?

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Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance struck with the worst news imaginable

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Age of Resistance was a particularly bold effort in Netflix’s push to claim its own original content foothold in the streaming wars. Puppetry on its own is extraordinarily expensive in the cinematic world, and furthermore, Age of Resistance had sizable and highly-detailed physical sets (that must be built on raised platforms for puppeteers to work, mind you) and a fair amount of post-production CGI. The Jim Henson Company might be the best in the world for this kind of thing, but that doesn’t make it any cheaper.

On top of that, there is the elephant in the room: the COVID-19 pandemic. All productions across the entire world are having difficulty balancing the health needs versus rising cost as the industry attempts to navigate a new normal. Several puppets for Age of Resistance require two operators inside a suit at one time, not to mention extra handlers on the outside between scenes. Lisa Henson described some of those challenges in an interview with SyFy Wire shortly before the cancellation announcement came down. “As long as you’re doing puppetry, it’s still a live-action shoot. And the COVID concerns are perhaps even multiplied because we have such large crews,” she explained. “It looks delicate, it looks beautiful, but it’s an incredibly large endeavor. You have no idea watching the finished show just how big it was. And to just put that up again would be a huge thing.” It’s safe to assume that the people involved more or less saw this coming, between the expense and the physical challenges presented by returning to work at all.

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Gabrielle Union to Host All-Black ‘Friends’ Table Read

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Gabrielle Union is set to host a live reading of an episode of “Friends” featuring an all-Black cast on Tuesday.

Cast members for the event include Sterling K. Brown as Ross, Ryan Bathe as Rachel, Uzo Aduba as Pheobe, Aisha Hinds as Monica, Kendrick Sampson as Joey and Jeremy Pope as Chandler. “Altered Carbon” director Salli Richardson-Whitfield will direct the event, which will take place over Zoom on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

The cast will reenact the Season 3 episode “The One Where No One’s Ready,” which was previously recreated for Jay-Z’s “Moonlight” video in 2017. The episode sees Ross struggle to rally his scattered and scatterbrained friends for an important event at his museum. It’s the one where Joey drinks chicken fat and wears all of Chandler’s clothes, Monica records over ex Richard’s voicemail, and Rachel has a wardrobe crisis before going commando for her boyfriend (before they were on a break, of course).


Also Read: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow Get Together for Mini ‘Friends’ Reunion During 2020 Emmys


The event is the second in the “Zoom Where It Happens” series, which previously saw a reading of “Golden Girls” starring Tracee Ellis Ross, Alfre Woodard, Regina King and Sanaa Lathan.

The Tuesday event is in support of Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote, which is described as “a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit on a mission to change the culture around voting by bringing together citizens, institutions, brands, and organizations to increase participation in every election.”

Viewers will need to RSVP for the event here.

Fall TV 2020: All the Premiere Dates for New and Returning Shows – So Far (Photos)

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