Two coronavirus vaccines available in U.S. in coming weeks: health secretary

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U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar testifies on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first two vaccines against the novel coronavirus could be available to Americans before Christmas, Health Secretary Alex Azar said on Monday, after Moderna Inc became the second vaccine maker likely to receive U.S. emergency authorization.

The Food and Drug Administration's outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to consider authorizing Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine. That vaccine could be approved and shipped within days, with Moderna's following one week behind that, Azar said.

"So we could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people's arms before Christmas," Azar said on CBS' "This Morning."

The federal government will ship the vaccines through its normal vaccine distrubution system, with state governors determining where they should go first, Azar said.

"They will be determining which groups to be prioritized. I would hope that the science and the evidence will be clear enough that our governors will follow the recommendations that we will make to them," Azar said.

He said he and Vice President Mike Pence will speak to all the nation's governors later on Monday to discuss the vaccines and which groups of people should be prioritized to get them first.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Kevin Liffey)