Covid-19 Vaccine Update
After 380,000+ deaths, 23 million+ cases, and a healthcare system at its breaking point, the United States is finally beginning to see signs of hope on the horizon and a possible end to this pandemic in sight. In mid-December healthcare workers started to receive their first vaccinations, however, as encouraging as it is, stopping this pandemic is not that simple. Many vaccines have been in development throughout 2020, but currently there are only two that have been approved for use in the US and there are some facts and important information that people should be aware of regarding these two vaccines.
What are the effectiveness rates and storage requirements?
Both vaccines have very similar effectiveness rates with Pfizer at 95% and Moderna at 94%. Both vaccines require 2 separate shots taken a few weeks apart; Pfizer requires the 2 doses to be taken 3 weeks apart compared to Moderna at 4 weeks apart. The biggest difference between the two vaccines appears to be how it is stored. The Moderna vaccine can be stored between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature of a typical refrigerator) for up to 30 days and at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 6 months. The Pfizer vaccine can only be stored in a typical refrigerator for 5 days and must be at -94 degrees Fahrenheit for any longer period of time. The extremely cold storage temperature requires special equipment/freezers which could make storage more difficult in locations that do not have the extra funding for unique purchases or extra room for specialized freezers/holding compartments.
Possible side effects?
The CDC has stated that individuals cannot get Covid-19 from these shots, however, there are some side effects, including, but not limited to, injection site pain, nausea, and fever. Many feel these reactions are a small price to pay for our country being able to return to “normal”. There is also a slight chance for a severe allergic reaction within a few minutes to an hour of the injection, which can cause difficulty breathing, swelling of your face and throat, fast heartbeat, a rash all over your body, or dizziness and weakness. It has been recommended that if a person is prone to severe allergic reactions they should speak with their doctor before receiving the vaccination.
Who will receive the vaccine and when?
The Pfizer vaccine can be given to people ages 16 and older and the Moderna vaccine can be given to people ages 18 and older. There will be many phases of distribution; however, the CDC has only given specific guidelines for Phase 1 as of now, but as supply increases the recommendations will be released referencing other phases. The first phase of distribution is divided into Phases 1a, 1b, and 1c. The CDC’s plan puts healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents into Phase 1a, which is currently in progress throughout the US. In Phase 1b, the vaccine will be given to frontline essential workers and people 75+. Then in Phase 1c, it will be administered to people 65+, people with underlying medical conditions, and other essential workers. Many states in the US are following these guidelines, but not all. Some states plan on rearranging the priority of certain people, such as moving law enforcement from 1b to 1a, while others have many sub-prioritizations within the first phase. The distribution is different throughout the US so it is important to know how it will work within your specific location.
When will normalcy return?
Overall it will still take quite some time to distribute these vaccines to the majority of the population, with the government stating that up to 100 million Americans could receive the vaccine by March. Assuming all goes according to plan it will still take until at least mid-2021 before the country starts to look more normal. It is important to note that these vaccines are not 100% effective and it is still unknown whether vaccinated people can carry the virus, so continuing to wear a mask and staying safe will still be extremely important. Many people have been significantly affected by Covid-19 such as healthcare workers, small business owners, hospitality industry employees, and school systems. Everyone needs to do their part so the vaccine can be effective and we can return to normalcy. We are all looking forward to the day when we can return to spending holidays with loved ones, traveling for business or pleasure, dining out or seeing a show, and children attending school; so if everyone does their part we can get back to the life we lived not that long ago.