If you would have told me 3 months ago that we’d have a vaccine before the end of the year, I would have thought you were way too optimistic — but here we are! We have two vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, that will likely gain approval under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) over the next 2 weeks and be immediately shipped out for use. I have been getting a lot of questions about this over the past week, so I felt like it would be good to send out an email about it.
Tell me more about this vaccine.
- Both companies have developed an mRNA vaccine, the first of its kind. These mRNA vaccines give the body a small piece of genetic material that serves as an instruction manual on how to build a unique part of the SARS CoV-2 virus called the spike protein. This will cause our body to build an immune response against this spike protein, protecting us from future infections.
- It is a two-dose vaccine, given 28 days apart.
- Studies have shown that both vaccines to be >94% effective at preventing a COVID19 infection
- We do not know if this will be a one-and-done vaccine like MMR or a yearly occurrence like the influenza vaccine.
But is it safe?
- When you get the vaccine, you will likely feel ill for around 24 hours, due to the fact that your immune system is working hard to keep you safe.
- Injections site reactions have been shown, which is common across all vaccines
- No serious side effects have been reported. With all previous vaccines, major adverse reactions were seen in the initial two months of its study.
- The vaccine has not yet been approved for pregnant women or children under 18 years old. Pfizer is currently testing the vaccine on children as young as 12 but results are still pending.
When and where can I get it?
- Because it is so new, supplies will be limited. The CDC has been working on a phased roll out of the vaccine but have not released a timeline yet.
- The first phase to come out before the end of the year includes front-line hospital workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
- My assumption is that the next phase will be around February and include higher risk patients.
- The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept very cold, much colder than we can manage at our clinic. It is still unclear if small practices like VFM will be able to dispense the vaccine to patients.
- Most major pharmacies will likely have the capacity to store and dispense these vaccines to patients once it rolls out to the general public.
Great podcast with a virologist who serves on the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee (https://peterattiamd.com/pauloffit/)
CDC Information on COVID-19 Vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html