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Harris says she would absolutely take a vaccine if it was recommended by public health professionals, but not if only President Trump says to.

USA TODAY

The claim: COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in weeks, and the government will force everyone to get it

The global effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has been a priority since the coronavirus pandemic started. Seven months into the U.S. outbreak, vaccine candidates are facing skepticism by some in the general public and various elected officials.  

Leading health officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, have maintained that a vaccine likely won’t be widely available until mid-2021. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has promised a vaccine before Election Day, prompting the Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris to accuse Trump of politicizing the vaccine and to question its safety, noting that she would take it only if the health experts said it was safe.  

The effectiveness and safety of a COVID-19 vaccine is not the only thing people are worried about. Vaccine conspiracy theories that originated in anti-vaxxer communities have thrived anew in the COVID-19 era, including claims that the vaccine would implant microchips or that it will be mandatory for every American.

A post from from Before It’s News, a website that allows anyone to contribute, — which was shared 38,00 times as of Oct. 15 — furthers the conspiracy theory of a mandatory vaccine, with a headline reading, “The Government Has Released Their Initial Plans to Force a Vaccine on Everyone.”

The post also says, “Three potential vaccines are currently in Stage 3 trials in the United States and could be ready in weeks,” citing Trump.

USA TODAY reached out to the site’s Facebook page for comment.

We’ll look at the two claims here: Will a vaccine be mandatory? And, what does the development and distribution timeline really look like?

Will a vaccine be ready in weeks?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the general cycle for the development of a new vaccine has six stages: exploratory stage, pre-clinical stage, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control. 

The global prioritization of finding a COVID-19 vaccine has shortened the timeline of its development, which for a regular vaccine would usually take years. However, vaccine developers and institutions like the CDC are following existing protocols to ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. 

As of Oct. 15, according to the World Health Organization, 42 vaccine candidates are in clinical evaluations and 156 are in preclinical evaluations.

16-year-old Katelyn Evans gets the first of two shots as part of a trial testing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in minors. (Photo: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital)

The post from Before It’s News cites a Sept. 15 comment from Trump where he said a vaccine could be ready in a “matter of weeks.” On Oct. 5, Trump said vaccines would be ready “momentarily.” However, scientists disagree.

On Sept. 16, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said that while an effective vaccine could be developed before the