The US Department of Defense (DoD) has unveiled a phased plan for the distribution of initial and subsequent batches of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The move comes as the department is expected to receive around 44,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as early as next week.

Under the plan, the DoD aims to use the initial allocation to inoculate its continental US (CONUS) and outside the continental US (OCONUS) uniformed service members, including active and selected reserve components.

The vaccination will also be open for National Guard members, dependents, retirees, civilian employees and select contract personnel.

Due to limited availability, the programme will be conducted at 16 locations, including three overseas.

The DoD will be working the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the distribution.

Distribution will begin after the Federal Drug Administration approves emergency use of the vaccine in accordance with Operation Warp Speed guidance.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery said: “We expect to have shots in arms of DoD personnel within 20 to 48 hours from the time the ACIP issues its final recommendation.

“Future allocations of the Covid-19 vaccine will focus on vaccinating priority populations quickly and safely, while simultaneously refining the intricate planning for the delivery of larger volumes of vaccine in future waves.”

Notably, the US is one of the worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic globally in terms of confirmed cases and fatalities.

As of 10 December, the country has confirmed more than 15 million cases and 289,451 deaths due to the disease.