An update on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine


Liam Regan, Contributing Writer

The COVID-19 vaccines have been a topic of interest over the past few weeks, for good reason.  The virus’ ubiquitous impact has caused millions of deaths, vast unemployment, and worldwide suffering and shutdown.  Many people are excited about the new vaccines and the possibility of ending the suffering our world is going through.  While some remain skeptical, the majority of people are relieved to see that the end of the pandemic is now in sight.  The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are both approved for use in the United States, and in the UK, the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine is also approved. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are unique in that they function through the use of messenger RNA (mRNA).  Two doses are required, spaced 21 days apart for the Pfizer vaccine, and 28 days apart for Moderna’s.  Additionally, only people older than 16 can receive the vaccine, as testing was not performed on people below this age.  Further testing must be conducted on younger children before they can receive the vaccine.  When a person is given these vaccines, they are actually receiving mRNA that codes for the main part of the COVID-19 virus.  The cells in one’s body begin to produce viral protein, and in response, antibodies are created to combat this intruder.  In the past, most vaccines have instead used weakened forms of a virus, but despite the lack of extensive testing, the new technology has proven to be highly efficient.  Pfizer’s vaccine achieved a rate of over 94% effectiveness and Moderna’s results displayed a rate of 95% effectiveness. 

“Despite how fast the vaccine was produced, it is impressive how effective the results are,” said junior Kayla Caplin. 

The high efficacy of these vaccines gives hope that the end of the pandemic is near, but there is still a major obstacle preventing a swift ending: distribution. The two leading vaccines must be stored at very low temperatures, making distribution difficult.  Each company can only produce so much of its vaccine at a given time, so recipients are being prioritized based on certain factors.  The CDC recommends that healthcare workers should be the first priority, as they are most exposed to the virus, along with elderly and immuno-compromised citizens.  

The limited supply of vaccine doses makes selective allocation necessary.  Data from the CDC shows that around 13.6% of the US population is already fully vaccinated.  Both Pfizer and Moderna have just recently released statements promising substantial increases in the amount of doses they produce.  To reach the promised number, they would have to send out 28 million doses every week, so if the companies are able to maintain their pledge, we should start to see tremendous increases in the three statistics from the CDC.

“Vaccine distribution has been slow; however, through great advertising and widespread awareness, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has improved,” said sophomore Talia Sinclair.

Each state has different rules regarding vaccine eligibility.  In New York, anyone above the age of 65 can schedule an appointment, but it has proven to be difficult because doses are prioritized and most places are booked for the next few months.  Certain types of essential workers, such as taxi drivers and food delivery workers, are able to get the vaccine, in addition to public transportation workers, school faculty, correctional facility workers, people in homeless shelters, and people with underlying medical conditions.  

The plan for the future aims to make all essential workers and those who are vulnerable eligible by March or April, while the rest of the adult population should hopefully be able to receive the vaccine by summer, if all goes according to plan.  While this might seem like a long way off, it is certainly a step in the right direction and should signify the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

“After so many months of waiting, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The vaccine is a massive step forward and hopefully we can return to normalcy within the coming months,” said sophomore Sammy Kassan.