Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer. An EUA allows for lifesaving medical products to become available during public health emergencies after a rigorous review of scientific evidence and extensive clinical trials proving that the product’s benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.
This authorization has allowed the vaccine to begin its initial limited distribution to the highest risk populations, beginning with health care workers whose roles involve high exposure risk and includes older adults living in long-term care facilities. The vaccine will not initially be available to the general public.
According to the EUA granted by the FDA, the Pfizer vaccine’s clinical trials included over 44,000 participants who voluntarily received the vaccine and were closely monitored to measure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. These clinical trials have shown the vaccine to be safe and more than 90 percent effective with no serious side effects.
“I am convinced, based on what we’ve seen, that this is a safe vaccine and it is efficacious,” said Dr. Vincent Hsu, MD, Infection Control Officer at AdventHealth. “And for that reason, I’ll get the vaccine.”
Most COVID-19 vaccines require two shots and, contrary to what some people may believe, the COVID-19 vaccine is not a live vaccine like we’ve seen with some others in the past.
“Getting the vaccine will not give you COVID,” said Dr. Hsu. “This vaccine does generate antibodies, but it does not contain any components of the virus.”
Many health care professionals had the opportunity to get vaccinated this week. The timeline to provide the vaccine to the general public will depend largely on supply, but experts are hoping to start vaccinating the general population by spring 2021.
Until a vaccine is widely available, it is important to continue to protect yourself and everyone around you. We have not vaccinated enough people to generate herd immunity.
“It’s pretty clear that we need to continue to wear our masks, stay socially distanced and avoid crowds outside our home,” said Dr. Steven Smith, MD, Chief Scientific Officer at AdventHealth. “Just be careful out there because it is still a pandemic.”
Continue to practice the safety steps you already know, like:
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily
- Getting your annual flu shot
- Staying at least six feet apart from anyone outside your household
- Washing your hands often with soap and water or using sanitizer often
- Wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose when around others.
Reach out to your primary care provider with questions. Your PCP will be able to provide you with more information about when and which vaccine will be available to you. If you need a PCP, visit MyHealthKC.com to find a physician in the AdventHealth network who’s right for you.