Some of the top news of 2021 thus far has included information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts across the USA. As of mid-January 2021, only 2% of Pennsylvania has gotten the vaccine. This small percentage is made up of senior citizens in care centers, as well as frontline health workers who work around the clock at hospitals tending to COVID-19 patients.
Most citizens are curious as to when they will be able to get the vaccine. The answer is … be patient as it is uncertain. The reason is two-fold: it is unclear as to how many doses are received by medical facilities and how the doses will be rolled out and distributed. With two vaccines from different companies coming to market (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna), one also has to wonder which one he/she will receive. If someone is 16 or above, they have the ability to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. However, that same vaccine is strictly prohibited to those who have severe allergies to foods, medicines, or other types of items that could cause a rash, hives, or trouble breathing. On the other hand, the Moderna vaccine has no allergy restrictions yet cannot be taken unless one is 18 or above.
Additionally, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at extremely low temperatures, reaching high into the negative digits. The Moderna vaccine does not need to be stored at extremely low temperatures. Both vaccines have to be administered exactly two weeks apart in order for them to be effective. The first dose is an immunity booster (preparing the immune system for what’s to come), while the second vaccine dosage contains the antibodies for the immune system to begin recognizing.
Below is a chart to effectively compare the two vaccines:
|Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine||Moderna Vaccine|
|Age Restrictions||16 and up||18 and up|
|Allergy Limits||Not for people with severe allergies||None|
|Temperature Storage||Extremely low temperatures; -94º F (-70º C)||Can be stored in a regular-temperature, household refrigerator|
|Production Rates||50 million doses/month||20 million doses/month|
|Availability||Senior Citizens/Health Care Workers||Senior Citizens/Health Care Workers|
Although the CDC says the vaccine is safe and will cause immunity from COVID-19, one might wish to see just how long the vaccine lasts for before actually getting vaccinated. Because these vaccines began being created in March 2020, there was not enough time to see how long immunity lasts from either vaccine. However, if the US can assume herd immunity, the country has the potential to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Another tidbit worth mentioning is the vaccine distribution amongst states within the US. Over 20 million vaccines have been delivered across the country, but only a little over 6.7 million of those vaccines have actually been administered to people as of January 8, 2021. This poses the question as to where those other vaccines are going. Are the vaccines just not being used? Are they not being stored correctly? These are incredibly important questions that we, as a society, need to know the answer to so that we can figure out how long it will take to vaccinate the entire US population.
In late December, CNN came out with an update that said that 1 in 4 people won’t get vaccinated until 2022. This creates a massive issue because this is still 25% of the US that is not vaccinated and could still have the potential to spread the virus. Let’s also not forget about the new variants of the virus that have just started to spring up, first in South Africa and England, and now here in the states with at least 50 people diagnosed with the new strain.
Speaking of new strains, there are two different types of new strains: the one from the UK, and the one from South Africa. Although scientists are fairly sure that the vaccine will work on both of these new strains, testing is still going on for this. The UK variant is anywhere from 56-70% more transmittable, which poses the question: if COVID-19 itself is already extremely transmittable from person to person, then how many more people will get infected from this new strain? This is another question that scientists hope to have an answer to in the coming weeks.
Make sure to keep up with the latest vaccine news in order to ensure your safety and well-being — don’t forget to mask up, social distance, and keep to your small household bubble for gatherings!
Joe Biden getting his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 21, 2020.