An Injection of Facts: The COVID-19 Vaccine - COVID-19 Clinical Trial
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An Injection of Facts: The COVID-19 Vaccine

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    Now that there are several COVID-19 vaccine options available in the marketplace, the biggest questions on everyone’s mind are when they might be eligible and the actual implications of the vaccine, or herd immunity.

    The CDC has offered Federal level guidance on vaccine eligibility, but specific criteria and methods for distribution are determined on the state level. The approach of the CDC evidences an acknowledgment of limited supply and reinforces a commitment to such goals as: a decrease in overall mortality and serious disease, keeping life disruption to a minimum, and alleviating the burden due to COVID-19 that is disproportionately felt by some of the population1.

    To date, the CDC has recommended a phased approached, making the vaccine available first to healthcare workers of every age, then frontline essential workers, followed by people aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, and then all people aged 65-74 years2. Although the eligibility is constantly shifting, each state has set up a website where specific and current information is made available.  

    In an effort to standardize vaccination efforts across the United States, President Biden announced on March 11, 2021 that by no later than May 1, 2021, all states, tribes, and territories must make the vaccine available to all adults. Additionally, President Biden has announced efforts to increase the number of vaccinators that can administer vaccines to the public3.  To support those initiatives, The White House has coordinated with the U.S Department of Health & Human Sciences to supplement the list of qualified persons who are authorized to prescribe, distribute, and administer COVID-19 vaccines. These additional vaccinators, such as dentists, EMTs, paramedics, medical and nursing students, and physicians’ assistants, are entirely qualified and are expected to receive proper training and be supported by professional supervision, where appropriate4.

    While President Biden expressed his desire to return the United States closer to normalcy by Independence Day, or July 4th, the White House is still recommending that the U.S. population continues to abide by available CDC guidance before making plans to travel, participate in gatherings, go to work, or visit houses of worship.

    Although the uncertainty of things might feel discouraging or frustrating, it is clear that things are moving in a positive direction. The best and brightest medical professionals, scientists, and public officials are working around the clock to assess the ongoing risks of COVID-19 and support an efficient and successful distribution of vaccinations across the globe. To that end, the CDC is reporting that as of [March 21, 2021], there have been over [156 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine distributed and over 124 million] doses have been administered5.   

    Despite significant progress in the acquisition and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, reports of vaccine shortages or vaccine appointment horror stories have some feeling concerned or even hopeless. However, there should be comfort sought in the knowledge that there is a meaningful thought process behind vaccination distribution. While the process of getting the entire population vaccinated might be met with certain obstacles, it is fundamentally based on certain ethical principles that directly contribute to its success.

    What are those principles? Well, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has advised that the following values should be prioritized when distributing a vaccine with supply challenges: maximizing benefit and minimizing harm, mitigating health inequities, and promoting justice and transparency2. With these standards front of mind for those providing direction in the way of vaccination dissemination, the public should feel comfortable that even with an extended adjustment period, vaccination efforts are designed to help as many people as possible in the most effectual method available.

    In even better news, the United States is currently a world leader in the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations and its supply line is widening daily. Pharmaceutical companies and drug makers have promised to deliver enough doses to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of May, which is enough supply to provide a vaccine to each and every adult6.  

    While it is important to be hopeful, it is critical to remember that we are still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are we plagued by existing strains of COVID-19, but there are more virulent strains of the virus to consider.  Doctors and scientists are testing the effectiveness of available vaccines against known strains and troubleshooting solutions, but in the meantime, it is imperative that we all still do our part in being mindful, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing. We will get through this, together.

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