COVID-19 has certainly changed every aspect of our lives over the last year. And it’s been devastating for thousands of families who felt the strain of a hospitalized loved one, or worse, who lost someone to the disease. But there has been a ray of hope in the form of newly released COVID-19 vaccines. And trying to sort through the political noise to find the latest about vaccine access and news in your neck of the woods might be tough. Today, we’ll peel back the unnecessary details and hone in on the latest news and resources to plan for the COVID-19 vaccine where you live.
Approved Vaccines Already in the Market
Former President Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” leveraged the power of executive and emergency orders to launch an extensive effort into studying, testing, and establishing a vaccine program. President Biden commits to enhancing and reinforcing the logistics and development efforts to expedite vaccines to market. However, as of right now, here’s what we know.
Nine Companies Signed Up
When the pandemic first took hold in the country, there was already a race to find out more about the virus to then explore vaccine options. By the time the White House Coronavirus Task Force started talking about addressing the need for a vaccine, many U.S. based pharmaceutical companies and vaccine developers were already hard at work. Nine vaccine makers signed up and continue to work through trials. A few have already achieved Emergency Use Authorization, while the others are close to FDA evaluation. These companies include AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, BioNTech, Merck, and Sanofi.
Last December, the FDA approved the Emergency Use Authorization allowing Pfizer-BioNTech to distribute its COVID-19 vaccine nationwide. This vaccine is one of the first to be authorized and is already in circulation. It’s an mRNA type and given in two separate shots, 21 days apart. The vaccination is given in the muscle of the patient’s upper arm.
The Moderna vaccine was approved by the FDA early on, as well. And like the Pfizer product, this vaccine is already in circulation. The Moderna version is an mRNA-1273 type, approved for individuals 18 years of age and older. This vaccination is given in two shots, 28 days apart. Like the Pfizer application, the Moderna vaccine is delivered primarily in the patient’s upper arm.
Who Is Able to Get a Vaccine Right Now?
Part of the speculation around the COVID-19 vaccination movement is trying to understand who gets in line first. There aren’t enough vaccines in circulation for every American to get one if they chose to do so. And batches are being sent to the states for allocation and distribution from there.
Based on Supply
It’s important to know just how short of a supply there is for the COVID-19 vaccine right now. The hope is that other vaccine manufacturers are able to successfully launch their vaccine variations in the coming months. With the promise of more supply on the way, the general public will have greater access.
State by State Prioritization
Because the supply of vaccinations is limited, the prioritization of who gets the shot first is essentially determined by the state in which you live. Metropolitan areas may have greater access to the first round of doses due to the sheer increase in population. Your local, county, and state departments of health will have more precise information regarding vaccine availability in your neck of the woods. They should also offer timelines allowing you to predict when vaccinations will become available to those who are unable to get the shots now.
Frontline & Essential Workers
Ideally, the vaccines are to be distributed based on tiers of those individuals who need immunizations the most. First responders, emergency personnel, and healthcare workers are some of the first on most lists. Senior living and senior citizen populations may also be eligible. Teachers and educators, essential retail workers, and public transportation staff may also be within the first few tiers of prioritization.
Reliable Resources for COVID-19 Vaccination Information
To learn more about the latest scientifically-based developments regarding vaccines and virus transmission prevention, there are reliable and authoritative resources to check first. Social media and even popular news outlets may not always offer the latest information or provide the best health advice. To make educated health decisions for yourself and your family, there are specific, trustworthy resources to explore.
Food & Drug Administration
You can always start by visiting the U.S. Food & Drug Administration website. Responsible for oversight of the Emergency Use Authorizations for potential vaccines, the FDA offers a wealth of information. You can find vaccine maker information, signs and symptoms, and mitigation best practices. The site is maintained and updated routinely when new information becomes available.
Your State Department of Public Health
For a more regional approach to understanding your COVID-19 risks and vaccination options, you can call or visit the website for your state department of health and human services or public health department. There you can find active statistics regarding positivity rates in your area as well as available testing sites and vaccine efforts.
Your Healthcare Provider
At a personal level, you can always have a conversation with your health care provider or physician to learn more about your risks and eligibility for the vaccine. Your doctor can also advocate on your behalf should you qualify for prioritization for the vaccination. Be an advocate for yourself, and don’t be afraid to call your general practitioner.
The COVID-19 news can be contradictory, and there may be questions about these first batches of the vaccine being distributed. If you’re still looking for reliable information, always start with the officials responsible for oversight. And never take a backseat in your quest for health. Reach out to your healthcare providers directly for advice about your situation.
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