The good and bad news about the vaccine

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The US draws closer and closer to approving a coronavirus vaccine

There has been a lot of hope for a COVID-19 vaccine. Companies like Pfizer and BioNTech have been racing to run trials and get their vaccines approved and it looks like it might finally be done. The most important thing to figure out now is who will get it first, and how many people will take it.

Many people are worried about the effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, especially one that was developed so quickly. For many, this fear is based on a lack of information. In its most basic form, a vaccine is a weakened version of the virus. For most people, the body’s immune system will easily be able to fight it off, so in the future when they are exposed to the virus their immune system will already know how to defeat it.

The active ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine is messenger RNA which contains part of the virus which infects the cells. The mRNA is suspended in a lipid nanoparticle in a saline solution. According to New Scientist, there are very few side effects, other than pain and muscle soreness at the injection site, both of which are common in vaccines. In short, it is very similar to a flu shot.

What worries policy makers and distributors is a lack of interest in the vaccine. In a normal year, only about 50% of people get the flu vaccine according to USAfacts.org. About 50% of people told PEW research they would get the coronavirus vaccine if it was available. Especially with the rise in cases, this is very concerning. Even if everyone got the vaccine, many lives would still be lost in the next six months. The UK, where the vaccine has already been approved and is being administered, will be a good example for the US to determine who receives the first doses.

On Monday, December 14, the first doses were administered in the US, in the largest vaccine effort in the history of the country. According to the New York Times, an ICU nurse from New York was the first to receive the historic vaccine.

“I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”says nurse Sandra Lindsay.

According to coronavirus.utah.gov, as soon as the vaccine is approved the first doses will be given to those working in hospitals with a high number of patients. This will happen sometime in December. In January, the remaining healthcare workers will receive the vaccine.

The vaccine will continue to trickle down the ladder of risk, including those in long term care facilities, essential workers, individuals over 65, and teachers and students. Vaccines should be available to the general public around May.

While the vaccine is a huge step forward in ending this pandemic, it will not solve all the problems. According to CNN, many will continue to be infected and die over the several months that it will take to distribute. Utah is currently seeing its largest number of cases and deaths daily so don’t forget the basics: washing your hands, wearing a mask, and staying six feet away whenever possible.