Ever since the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak was classified as a global pandemic, companies around the world have worked to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that could end this worldwide health crisis.
An effective vaccine requires thorough research and extensive trials to ensure overall safety and efficacy before being released to the public. Typically, vaccines take years of study and testing before entering mass-scale production, but the COVID-19 vaccine was developed, studied, and authorized in less than a year—a historic record. Governments and health officials worldwide have been analyzing and developing guidelines around the best ways to distribute and administer the vaccine shots—namely, how to deliver them and who should get them first. As many states expand vaccine eligibility further, you may be wondering: when will the COVID-19 vaccine be available to you? In this blog post, we discuss COVID-19 vaccine availability to the public.
COVID-19 Vaccine: Logistics and Latest Developments
As of early February 2021, two coronavirus vaccines—from Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna—had been authorized for emergency use in the United States. A few weeks after, on February 27, the US Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A) issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, making it the third COVID-19 vaccine available in the US. Johnson & Johnson have guaranteed to provide the US with 100 million doses by late-June.
However, because vaccine distribution requires sophisticated transportation equipment, trained professionals to administer the vaccine, as well as designated locations to vaccinate the public, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has been logistically challenging. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine must be stored at –94°F (–70°C) to maintain its efficacy, while the Moderna vaccine must be refrigerated for 30 days and should be stable for up to six months when shipped and stored at –4°F (–20°C). The newly authorized COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use––by Johnson & Johnson has less demanding requirements, can be stored up to two years at –4°F (–20°C) and up to three months refrigerated at 36-46°F (2-8°C).
U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to increase the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccine shots in his first 100 days in office. “This team will help get… at least 100 million covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people in the first 100 days,” said President Biden when he introduced the members of his health team on December 8, 2020.
As of April 1, 2021, the federal government has delivered more than 200 million vaccine shots to states, territories, and federal agencies; 153 million doses have been administered, and 56 million people are already fully vaccinated. Some health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading expert in infectious diseases and the White House advisor for the COVID-19 pandemic, have estimated that somewhere between 70-80 percent of the population needs to receive both doses of the vaccine shot to achieve herd immunity as a nation.
COVID-19 Vaccine Timeline of Distribution
Here’s what you need to know about the phases of the coronavirus vaccine distribution and when the vaccine will be available to you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following phased rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The first supplies of COVID-19 vaccine shots should be administered to healthcare workers and long-term-care facility residents.
The groups who should be offered the vaccine shots next include:
- Frontline essential workers: firefighters, corrections officers, police officers, food and agricultural workers, USPS workers, grocery store workers, manufacturing workers, and public transit workers.
- Education workers: teachers, support staff, and daycare workers.
- People aged 75 years and older because people in this age group are at higher risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19.
This phase may overlap with phase 1b depending on vaccine availability and should include:
- People aged 65 and older, due to their increased risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19.
- People between 16 and 64 years old with underlying medical conditions that can increase the risk of developing life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
- Other essential workers such as people who work in public health, food service, housing construction, transportation and logistics, and public safety.
All remaining residents.
What Vaccination Phase Is Your State In?
Apart from the CDC’s rollout guidance, each state’s inoculation has been managed individually. priority groups are defined based on the underlying risk to the individuals, state’s resources, vaccine availability, and other factors. Most of these divergences include expanding age groups earlier than recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and simplifying priority groups.
You can learn more about the rollout phase your state is in with The Wall Street Journal’s “How to Get a Covid-19 Vaccine: a State-by-State Guide” which is based on individual state websites and is updated frequently.
Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine
Below are a few frequently asked questions and answers about the COVID-19 vaccine, based on the latest recommendations from the CDC.
Many health experts believe that being fully vaccinated is beneficial for those who haven’t been exposed to the virus as well as for people who have been previously infected with COVID-19. The duration of this ‘natural immunity’ gained from exposure is still unknown and varies depending on the severity of the infection and the immune system of the infected person.
Are masks necessary after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine shots?
Accordingly to the CDC, it depends. There isn’t enough information yet for the CDC and health officials to stop recommending masks and social distancing after being fully vaccinated. Health experts say they need to learn more about how the COVID-19 vaccine protects people in real-world conditions before making those decisions. Until we know more about the disease and the corresponding vaccine, continue to wear a mask and practice the recommended social distancing and hygienic practices–especially with the discovery of new strains of COVID-19.
Is the vaccine free?
While you may not have to pay out of pocket to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the healthcare worker who administers the vaccine may ask you for your insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you should still be allowed to get the vaccine at no charge. Regardless, make sure you ask about possible hidden costs so you won’t be surprised with any bills later.
How many shots of COVID-19 vaccines are needed?
The first two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States require two shots for full protection.*
- The Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be administered 21 days apart.
- The Moderna doses should be administered 28 days apart.
The third COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use in the United States— manufactured by Johnson & Johnson only requires one shot for full protection.
*There are other COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 3 of clinical trials but these vaccines are awaiting authorization before being distributed to the public.
Until you are able to get the vaccine, getting tested is one way to help keep yourself and your community safe, in addition to social distancing and wearing a face covering. Find a COVID-19 testing location near you today.
Curative Inc. and its subsidiary, Curative Management Services LLC, engage with medical entities that provide vaccination services.