Most of America, and much of the world, let out a
collective sigh of relief as the promise of a vaccine
before the end of 2020 became reality.
What would have been impossible only a year or two ago
became a scientific, governmental and medical triumph.
While maintaining safety protocols, the red tape was
removed, massive funding was made available and the efforts of some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical
companies were combined.
The result was two vaccines that went through clinical
trials in record time. The approach used for both
vaccines, something called mRNA (Messenger RNA),
was a new approach that has had limited real-world
use, but decades of study by researchers.
mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika,
rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV), according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The vaccines were tested on thousands of people from
a number of demographics during the trials. The results
with both the Pfizer and Moderna products was a 94
percent effective rate compared to the groups who
received a placebo.
This combination of a new approach to vaccines, along
with fast-tracking these vaccines, was an incredible
achievement. As Vice President Pence said; “we cut
red tape without cutting corners.”
Thanks for the quick rollout of the vaccines also has to
be given to the thousands of volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to participate in one of the most important
vaccine trials in modern history.
Who Gets the New Vaccines?
The roll out of the vaccines included a prioritization
schedule, vaccinating those on the front lines first. The
CDC has provided recommendations to federal, state,
and local governments about who should be vaccinated
first. These recommendations come from an independent
panel of medical and public health experts.
According to the CDC, the criteria used to determine
the early recipients were “Decrease death and serious
disease as much as possible. Preserve functioning of
society and reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having
on people already facing disparities.”
For this reason, health care workers and those in longterm care facilities should receive the first doses. (this is the Phase 1a group).
The next groups to receive the vaccines will be frontline
essential workers, including first-responders, postal
workers, food and agriculture workers, grocery store
workers, public transit workers and educators. Also,
people over the age of 75.
The next groups would consist of those between the
ages of 65 and 74, those who are between the ages of
16 and 64, who have underlying medical conditions and
other essential workers. These are people who work
in transportation and logistics, communications, law,
media, finance and public health.
This approach recognizes that there is an initial limited
supply of the vaccines and that as the supply increases,
the vaccines can be rolled out to expanded groups.
The hope of the ever-increasing vaccination roll-out is that
at some point, by the spring of 2021 or the summer, that
the U.S. will reach herd immunity. At this point, the spread
of the virus will be reduced to a point where health care
facilities can easily manage any influx of COVID patients
without compromising the quality of health care.
Even before herd immunity is reached, local economies
can begin to reopen as infection rates are reduced to
manageable levels and standard mitigation measures are
even more effective. This will allow the economy to once
again flourish and the most impacted sectors to start
generating revenues again.