Everything You Need To Know About the New Coronavirus Vaccines
After many months of waiting the coronavirus crisis to go away, it’s normal to get excited about the announcements of new coronavirus vaccines. When will they be available and how effective are they? Here’s what we know so far.
How Many Coronavirus Vaccines Are Available?
As of December, 2020, there are three main coronavirus vaccines that appear especially promising. One is made by Pfizer, one by Moderna and one by AstraZeneca-Oxford. All three manufacturers report an effectiveness of over 90%. A 90% efficacy rate is far more than what many health professionals expected, which is great news.
How Do the Coronavirus Vaccines Work?
The basic idea of a vaccine for COVID-19 is to help your body’s immune system increase its defenses and destroy the virus. Scientists working on different vaccines have identified a special protein in COVID-19 that triggers your immune cells, similar to an alarm system.
By exposing your body to just this protein, without the rest of the virus, a vaccine makes your body go into overdrive building up defenses against COVID-19. If the coronavirus tries to attack you, the result is like a criminal trying to rob a police station.
How Do Vaccines Get Approved?
It’s really important to understand that, as of December 1, 2020, there are no approved vaccines available yet. The three that we talked about above have only passed the first phase. Now they need to get approved by the FDA. Here’s what’s going to happen next:
Vaccine manufacturers request authorization for larger testing
FDA experts monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in these studies
An FDA committee votes on whether to approve each vaccine
The FDA announces approval (or not) of the vaccine
The CDC starts coordinating distribution of vaccines to hospitals and clinics
How Safe Are the New COVID-19 Vaccines?
So far, no serious side effects have been reported with the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines. This doesn’t mean that they’re proven to be safe, but the initial results look good. Some people have experienced soreness, fever, headaches and fatigue afterwards. Scientists are going to keep checking safety both before and after FDA approval.
When Will the New Coronavirus Vaccines Be Ready?
If you’re in a high-risk group for COVID-19, you may get access to a coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020. Healthcare workers, teachers, older adults and people with severe health conditions will get vaccinated first. Other Americans will probably need to wait until April 2021 at least. Manufacturers can only produce so much vaccine at a time.
How Much Will It Cost To Get Vaccinated?
The U.S. government has purchased millions of doses of different COVID-19 vaccines that it plans to provide for free. People in a high-risk category will probably not have to pay anything. For other Americans however, there will probably be some cost, since pharmaceutical companies are likely going to want to make money off of it. A seasonal flu vaccine costs over $60 a dose, so I’d imagine people will pay at least that much.
What’s the Bottom Line?
There aren’t any approved vaccines yet
If you’re in a high-risk category, expect a vaccine by the end of 2020
The new coronavirus vaccines appear safe, but nothing is 100% sure yet
Older Americans shouldn’t pay anything for a vaccine, but others probably will
If everything goes as planned, you and I may be sitting in our lawn chairs, sipping piña coladas and saying hi to each other totally mask free by the end of summer!