Coming to a compromise between two high-risk population groups, a panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Sunday to recommend that people aged 75 and over be the next to receive the coronavirus vaccine in the United States. , with around 30 million people. essential front-line workers, ”including emergency responders, teachers and grocery store workers.
The debate over who should get the vaccine in those first few months has become increasingly urgent as the daily count of cases has become unimaginable even a month ago. The country has already started vaccinating healthcare workers, and on Monday CVS and Walgreens were due to launch a mass vaccination campaign in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country. This week, around six million doses of the newly licensed Moderna vaccine are expected to start arriving at more than 3,700 sites across the country, including many smaller and rural hospitals.
The panel of doctors and public health experts had previously said they would recommend a much larger group of Americans defined as essential workers – around 87 million people in jobs designated by a division of the Department of Homeland Security. as essential to the next priority population and that the elderly who live independently should come later.
But during Sunday discussion hours, committee members concluded that given the limited initial supply of vaccines and the higher Covid-19 death rate among older Americans, it made more sense to allow the older among them to follow the workers more at risk of exposure to the virus.
Core worker groups, such as construction and food service workers, the committee said, would be eligible for the next wave. Members clarified that local organizations have great flexibility in making these decisions.
“I am very convinced that we need to find this balance between saving lives and keeping our infrastructure in place,” said Dr Helen Talbot, panel member and infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University..
With the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine starting in the United States, here are the answers to some questions you might be wondering:
- If I live in the United States, when can I get the vaccine? While the exact order of vaccines may vary by state, most will likely prioritize medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities. If you want to understand how this decision is made, this article will help you.
- When can I resume a normal life after being vaccinated? Life will only return to normal when society as a whole is sufficiently protected against the coronavirus. Once countries authorize a vaccine, they will only be able to immunize a few percent of their citizens at most in the first two months. The unvaccinated majority will remain vulnerable to infection. A growing number of coronavirus vaccines show strong protection against the disease. But it is also possible for people to spread the virus without even knowing they are infected, as they show only mild symptoms, if any. Scientists do not yet know if vaccines also block transmission of the coronavirus. So for now, even vaccinated people will have to wear masks, avoid crowds inside, etc. Once enough people are vaccinated, it will become very difficult for the coronavirus to find vulnerable people to infect. Depending on how quickly we, as a society, reach this goal, life may start to move closer to something normal by fall 2021.
- If I have been vaccinated, do I still have to wear a mask? Yes, but not forever. Here’s why. Vaccines against the coronavirus are injected deep into the muscles and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. This appears to be sufficient protection to prevent the vaccinated person from getting sick. But what’s not clear is whether it’s possible for the virus to bloom in the nose – and either sneeze or breathe out to infect other people – even though antibodies elsewhere in the body have mobilized to prevent the vaccinated person to get sick. Clinical vaccine trials have been designed to find out whether people vaccinated are protected from the disease – not whether they might still spread the coronavirus. Based on studies of the flu vaccine and even of patients infected with Covid-19, researchers have reason to hope that those vaccinated will not spread the virus, but more research is needed. In the meantime, everyone, even those who have been vaccinated, will have to think of themselves as possible silent spreaders and continue to wear a mask. Learn more here.
- Will it hurt? What are the side effects? The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is given by injection into the arm, like other typical vaccines. The injection into your arm won’t be different from any other vaccine, but the rate of short-lived side effects seems higher than a flu shot. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines and none of them have reported serious health problems. Side effects, which may resemble symptoms of Covid-19, last for about a day and appear more likely after the second dose. Initial reports of vaccine trials suggest that some people may need to take time off work because they feel unwell after receiving the second dose. In the Pfizer study, about half developed fatigue. Other side effects occurred in at least 25-33% of patients, sometimes more, including headache, chills, and muscle pain. While these experiences are not pleasant, they are a good sign that your own immune system is developing a potent response to the vaccine that will provide long-lasting immunity.
- Will mRNA vaccines change my genes? No. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a genetic molecule to stimulate the immune system. This molecule, known as mRNA, is ultimately destroyed by the body. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse with a cell, allowing the molecule to slip inside. The cell uses mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus, which can stimulate the immune system. At any given time, each of our cells can contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules, which they produce to make their own proteins. Once these proteins are made, our cells then shred the mRNA with special enzymes. The mRNA molecules made by our cells can only survive for a few minutes. The mRNA in vaccines is designed to resist the enzymes in the cell for a bit longer, so that the cells can make additional viral proteins and elicit a stronger immune response. But mRNA can only last a few days at most before being destroyed.
Together, the two groups the committee voted to prioritize on Sunday number around 51 million people; Federal health officials have estimated that there should be enough vaccines to get them all vaccinated by the end of February.
Yet as the first week of vaccination in the United States drew to a close, frustrations were flamboyant to the rhythm of Distribution. This weekend, General Gustav F. Perna, who heads the Trump administration’s distribution effort, apologized for more than a dozen states learning at the last minute that they would be receiving fewer doses vaccine manufactured by Pfizer next week than expected. Tensions were also swarming in some states over local decisions about which health workers should get immunized immediately and who should wait.
CDC director Dr Robert Redfield will review the committee’s recommendation and decide, likely by Monday, whether to adopt it as the agency’s official guideline to states. The expert group, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, stressed that its recommendations were not binding and that each state would be able to refine or adjust them to meet the unique needs of its population.
The 13-1 vote came as frustration erupted over the pace of vaccine distribution. Some 128,000 injections were given in the first five days of the vaccine in the United States, according to a New York Times vaccine tracking database – just over half of the number of new cases reported across the country Friday only. This weekend, General Gustav F. Perna, who is leading the Trump administration’s distribution effort, apologized for at least 14 states learning at the last minute that they would receive fewer doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer next week than expected. Tensions were also mounting in some states over local decisions about which health workers should get immunized immediately and who should wait.
In addition to teachers, firefighters and police, a subgroup of the committee suggested that “essential frontline workers” should include school support staff; daycare, correctional staff, public transport, grocery store and post office workers; and those working in food production and manufacturing. But the group’s official recommendation isn’t that specific.
Originally, the committee reported last month that it was inclined to let 87 million essential workers receive vaccines before adults 65 and older. Many had expressed concern that essential workers, who are often low-paid people of color, were disproportionately affected by the virus and were further disadvantaged due to their reduced access to good health care.