As we know, the line between response and recovery is not always clearly delineated. For COVID-19, the line can seem quite blurred. Throughout the country, reductions in positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths that indicate recovery have been followed by increases resulting in the implementation of response measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. Responses have included additional medical facilities and controversial curfews and closures, impacting our physical, emotional and financial well-being.
The development, approval and distribution of a vaccine offers hope that a full recovery, the return to “normal,” is on the horizon. Days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccine, distribution and administration commenced. This is the “light at the end of the tunnel” that we have been hoping for.
While the efficacy of the first vaccine is reportedly 95%, there are concerns about safety for certain groups – teens 16-18, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions. The concerns seem to primarily revolve around the lack of inclusion of these groups in the clinical trials. However, all indications are that the vaccine is safe for most of the population. In Texas, the first persons to be eligible for vaccination are front-line hospital staff, nursing home staff and residents and emergency responders. Per the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the goal is 100 million vaccinated by February and general availability for everyone in the spring. Additional vaccines, new treatments and home tests are also in the pipeline.
While there is great news. infectious disease experts predict that it will be months before the vaccine makes a dent in the number of COVID cases. A significant number of the population needs to have two doses, 21-28 days apart. In the meantime, it is essential to continue safety measures. The recommendations remain the same – Wear a mask (face covering), Watch your distance (at least six feet) and Wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds). The light at the end of the tunnel may soon be a ray of sunshine.
Please be safe and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!