By Jenna Thomas
A coordinated, streamlined, and non-stop effort to develop a functional COVID-19 vaccine has paid off. Throughout the rest of December, Ohio will receive hundreds of thousands of doses, beginning the long process of vaccinating as much of the public as is willing.
Currently, there are two vaccines approved for emergency use that will be shipped to Ohio. The first is from the company Pfizer―a shot that must be administered in two doses, three weeks apart. Trial results show that their vaccine is 95% effective. The other vaccine is produced by Moderna, which also requires two doses about a month apart, and is 94% effective.
Both of these vaccines were created using a new scientific technology that deviates from the norm. Typically, vaccines are a weakened or deactivated form of the virus itself. Instead, these COVID-19 vaccines use the mNRA from the virus―its genetic material. This allows the vaccine to mimic the virus and prepare your immune system for what a COVID-19 protein would look like if it entered your system.
Using mNRA genetic data has contributed to the speed at which these two vaccines were created. For vaccines like the flu, developers have to track and identify the strains for about six months, and that is only the beginning of the lengthy process of deactivating the virus.
Still, concerns around the vaccine’s safety are still abundant. Health experts have repeatedly assured the public that every precaution has been taken throughout these vaccine trials.
The state of Ohio has laid out three phases for vaccine distribution for each level of availability. We are entering phase one, which prioritizes the following populations: Health care workers that directly treat COVID-19 patients, residents and staff in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes and EMS responders.
When shipments from Pfizer arrive around December 15, nearly 10,000 doses will go to hospitals, while nearly 89,000 will go to Walgreens and CVS to distribute to the various care facilities.
Another 201,000 doses from Moderna and about 123,000 from Pfizer will come on December 22, which will go to 98 hospitals and 108 health departments. The shipments will continue incrementally.
A good deal of health care workers are excited to take part in this first wave of vaccinations―especially as the outbreak continues to climb once again. Kayla Pierce, a nurse at the Cleveland Clinic, shared her confidence and enthusiasm for the vaccine, which she plans to receive in the coming weeks.
“The hospitals are quite literally drowning in cases right now, with patients coming in sicker and sicker due to this surge in cases―and it’s not slowing down. I feel very strongly that my coworkers, and everyone that is able to, should get this vaccine. Any of the thousands of patients lying in hospital beds with ventilators and no family would jump at the chance to take it instead of being where they are right now.”
Although these vaccines could make a substantial difference in healthcare worker’s safety and in spread among senior living homes, health experts warn that it will not alone be enough to get the virus under control. There are many projections on when the vaccine will become widely available, some suggesting the spring or summer of 2021.