Now that we have two approved Covid-19 Vaccines - Pfizer and Moderna- my messaging and emails are blowing up with friends, relatives and patients who want to know when they can receive it. This is a good thing! A recent poll showed 71% of Americans are ready to step up and receive the new vaccine.
After the nursing homes and health professionals are inoculated, next in line will be frontline workers (firefighters, police, teachers) and the CDC has now said people over age 75 should be included with "essential"workers like public transit, grocery workers, daycare, correction, food processing and postal workers.
This sounds like good news until you realize that each State is doing its own thing and trying to manage the guidelines, which are fluid and changing daily. What about people with underlying conditions? Hypertension? Asthma? Diabetes? Immune suppressed? Does someone age 65 go before a 25 year old with the same condition? What about jails and prisoners who we know are in high risk settings?
The logistics of prioritizing and administering the vaccine are huge. We have not done a good job with PPE and the States and Counties do not have the infrastructure to rapidly deploy vaccine administration or keep people with privilege or power from jumping the line. How do we track the 2nd vaccine, which must be separated by 3 weeks from the first dose?
This first week, over 500K Covid-19 vaccines were given, mainly through hospitals and at nursing homes via CVS and Walgreens. During December the rest of nursing homes and front-line health workers will be inoculated. We hope to administer the next tiers, including people over age 75 within the first quarter of 2021. Everyone else will need to follow as more vaccines come available and an infrastructure is built. The vaccine is not approved for kids under age 16 so they will need to wait until probably 2022.
Full immunity doesn't occur until about a week after the 2nd shot.
Developing an effective vaccine for a brand new virus in only 11 months is an amazing testament to innovation, business and government cooperation and medical science. It is a staggering breakthrough but we are not out of the woods. We are still in the first lap in the race against Covid and cannot let down our guard.
Remember the 3-W's
Wear a mask
Watch your distance
Wash your hands