The U.S. government plans to initially roll out 6.4 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine next month, while it is confident in meeting its goal of distributing about 40 million doses by the end of the year, federal officials said Tuesday.

Two leading vaccines, from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, have shown to be about 95% effective at protecting against Covid-19. Pfizer has asked for U.S. regulators to grant an emergency use authorization while Moderna’s request should come in the coming weeks.

The U.S. government on Friday told states and other jurisdictions how many doses they should initially expect, U.S. Army Gen. Gus Perna told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. Gen. Perna serves as chief operating officer of the government’s Covid-19 response program, Operation Warp Speed. Future shipments would follow, he said.

The states’ initial amounts are based on their populations, meaning the more populous ones will receive more doses, said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

“We wanted to keep this simple,” said Mr. Azar. “We thought that would be the fairest approach, the most consistent.”

States have been mapping out which hospitals and vaccination sites would receive the shots, which will then be delivered by either the federal government or Pfizer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously said in vaccine planning documents that allocations would be based on factors besides population, such as prevalence of Covid-19. However, the government decided to go with only a state’s adult population since the virus continues to spread nationally and the final plan was to base it on populations anyway, Mr. Azar said.

Both vaccines require two doses several weeks apart, although Gov. Perna said the initial rollout would be only for the first dose, which would mean enough first doses for more than six million people. Federal officials said on the call they are developing capabilities to ensure that people will be able to get their follow-up shots without a hiccup.

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