As we enter the colder months and flu season, many people are anxiously awaiting news on the COVID-19 vaccine. When will it be ready? How much will it cost? Who is first in line to receive one? Since the pandemic started, Operation Warp Speed has been working to make a COVID-19 vaccine available as soon as possible. The good news is, there is a possibility that one or more COVID-19 vaccines may become available before the end of the year. Here's what else you need to know about where the plans for a COVID-19 vaccine currently stand.
1. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Not only does the COVID-19 vaccine go through several clinical trials that involve thousands of study participants, once the vaccine is authorized or approved for use, vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events (possible side effects). Click here to learn more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
2. Many COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and tested, but some might be ready before others.
Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are under development. As of October 13, 2020, four vaccines have begun large scale (phase 3) clinical trials in the United States.
3. There may be more than one shot of COVID-19 needed.
All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in phase 3 clinical trials in the United States use two shots. The other COVID-19 vaccine uses one shot.
4. There may be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of 2020, but supply will continually increase in the weeks and months that follow.
Not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. However, the goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. The plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers available so no one will have to travel far to be vaccinated, whether it’s at your doctor’s office, retail pharmacy, hospital, or federally qualified health center.
5. If there is a limited supply, some groups may be recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine first.
Experts are working on how to distribute these limited vaccines in a fair, ethical and transparent way. The CDC is considering four groups to possibly recommend COVID-19 vaccination for if supply is limited:
- Healthcare personnel
- Workers in essential and critical industries
- People at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease due to underlying medical conditions
- People 65 years and older
6. Cost will not be an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
The federal government is committed to providing free or low-cost COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccine providers will be able to charge administration fees for giving or administering the shot to someone. Most public and private insurance companies will cover that fee so there is no cost for the person getting vaccinated. In addition, people without health insurance can get COVID-19 vaccines at no cost.
7. It is still unknown whether people who have had COVID-19 and recovered should get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.
There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again; this is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Until we have a vaccine available and know more about natural immunity to COVID-19, the CDC cannot advise on whether people who had COVID-19 should get a COVID-19 vaccine.
8. At first, COVID-19 vaccines may not be recommended for children.
In early clinical trials for various COVID-19 vaccines, only non-pregnant adults participated. However, clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to participate. The groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change in the future.
While it is still unknown exactly when the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready, it's important to remember that experts are doing everything they can to deliver a safe and effective solution as soon as possible. Until then, it's crucial that everyone keep washing their hands, wearing a face mask, and practicing social distancing to protect themselves and others as best as possible.
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