What are the challenges to rolling out a vaccine?
The two vaccines announced last week shattered all records for speed of development. “We’d be lucky in normal circumstances if we were able to develop vaccines in three years,” said Brad Pollock, associate dean for public health sciences at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine.
The vaccines work by using the host’s own immune system to form a defense against the virus.
Even with the historic development, there are some challenges ahead. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses given weeks apart, meaning people will have to remember to get their second follow-up dose.
There’s also the matter of storage. Both of those vaccines must be stored at low temperatures, although Moderna said that its vaccine had a longer shelf life under refrigeration and at room temperature than previously reported. State health officials said they are working to improve their cold chain storage capacities.
The state also needs an adequate supply of needles and syringes, alcohol, pads, bandages, masks and personal protective equipment to safely administer the vaccine.
Once the vaccine is widely available, there might be some resistance to taking it, studies have shown. But there is now reason to believe that more people will be willing to take a vaccine than previously thought. A Gallup poll released on Tuesday showed that 58 percent of the adults who were surveyed were willing to be vaccinated, up from 50 percent in September.
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Is there a timeline?
Mr. Newsom said he expected the vaccine would be widely available in the middle of next year. A number of variables will become more clear in the coming months. Dr. Pollock said that people who participated in the Moderna and Pfizer trials will still need to be followed for a few more months in order to monitor potential side effects.
The Moderna trial did not include children but there are plans to include them in the coming months. However, since children seem to be spared from the harshest effects of the virus, it’s unlikely that they will be included in the first few phases.