What are the challenges of deploying a vaccine?
The two vaccines announced last week broke all development speed records. “We would be lucky under normal circumstances if we could develop vaccines in three years,” said Brad Pollock, associate dean for public health sciences at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine.
Vaccines work by using the host’s immune system to form a defense against the virus.
Even with historical development, there are challenges to overcome. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses spaced several weeks apart, which means people will need to remember to receive their second follow-up dose.
There is also the question of storage. Both of these vaccines should be stored at low temperatures, although Moderna said their vaccine has a longer shelf life under refrigeration and at room temperature than previously reported. State health officials said they were working to improve their cold chain storage capacities.
The state also needs an adequate supply of needles and syringes, alcohol, swabs, bandages, masks and personal protective equipment to administer the vaccine safely.
Once the vaccine becomes widely available, there could be some resistance to taking it, studies have shown. But there is now reason to believe that more people will be ready for the vaccine than previously thought. A Gallup poll released on Tuesday showed 58% of adults polled were ready to get the shot, up from 50% in September.
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Is there a timeline?
Mr Newsom said he expected the vaccine to be widely available by the middle of next year. A number of variables will become clearer in the coming months. Dr Pollock said people who participated in the Moderna and Pfizer trials will still need to be followed for a few more months to watch for potential side effects.
The Moderna trial did not include children, but there are plans to include them in the coming months. However, since children appear to be spared the harshest effects of the virus, they are unlikely to be included in the early stages.