NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the death toll continues to soar, hopes for ending the COVID-19 pandemic rest on vaccines that are nearing authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

However, public health experts caution there are still many difficult hurdles to overcome before a vaccine can make a difference, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

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The scientific effort to produce what will likely be several COVID vaccines has been remarkable. Now comes the less glamorous, but still challenging work of vaccine manufacturing, distribution and public acceptance.

Public health systems have never faces the challenge of immunizing tens of millions of people in such a short time. It’s actually in the billions since the pandemic is global.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“Distributing them to states around the country, those states creating the vaccination programs in place to identify the high-risk target populations, to get those vaccines, to keep them at the appropriate temperatures, to complete the two-dose series, to keep track of all the records of these vaccines,” said Dr. Jason Schwartz, from Yale School of Public Health.

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Dr. Schwartz and his colleagues at Yale just published an analysis of these complex logistical challenges.

While Operation Warp Speed in the U.S. has been working on those issues nationally, Dr. Schwartz said state and local levels are far behind in their preparations.

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Then, there’s the thorny issue of whether enough people will actually get and COVID vaccine to stop the virus spread.

“An educational program, a communications strategy nationwide to help resolve the questions and concerns that the public is reporting will be just as important as the scientific work that’s been happening in recent months,” Dr. Schwartz said.

Similar and even more challenging efforts will have to be mounted globally because the coronavirus does not recognize national boundaries, and since vaccine immunity is never 100% foreign hot spots can still spread.

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