By: Lía Fiol-Matta, Esq. and Ty Hyderally, Esq.
Almost a year into the COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) pandemic, it is safe to say that many of us are “pandemic-weary” and looking forward to a better 2021. For many, that includes hoping for an effective vaccine that will allow us to feel safer leaving our homes and reintegrating to our workplaces. Essential workers have been braving the pandemic working day in and day out at their jobs, helping us all be safe and the economy to continue functioning. For the rest, how can we know when the coronavirus vaccine will be available to each of us?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) is a national public health institute in the United States relied upon by many for information and updates on the coronavirus. It is a United States federal agency, under the Department of Health and Human Services. Although the CDC is not involved in developing COVID-19 vaccines, it has been working closely with health departments and partners to develop vaccination plans for when a vaccine is finally available. That time is quickly approaching and individuals interested in vaccination before returning to their workplaces are anxious to know when they can expect to be vaccinated.
This week, the CDC announced its suggested vaccine timeline, guided by a panel of scientific advisers, which provides guidance to employees and employers for when workplaces in the country might hopefully return to normal in-house operations. This is a rough expected timeline for coronavirus vaccination:
December 2020: The first people to receive the vaccine will likely be healthcare workers and nursing home residents. Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna so far total up to 40 million doses and the plan is to vaccinate the three million residents of long-term care facilities and most of the 21 million health care workers in the country. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second dose a few weeks after the first shot. That is why a first batch of 40 million doses can only benefit 20 million individuals.
January 2021: It is expected that Pfizer and Moderna will start shipping approximately 70 million doses of coronavirus vaccines a month and people will be able to get vaccinated at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and hospitals, as well as clinics created especially for this purpose. If other companies receive vaccine approval, the total number of doses shipped each month will increase significantly.
February-March: People over the age of 65, and especially over 75, will be the next priority group to be vaccinated, as well as people with medical conditions that pose a high risk of death if infected with the coronavirus. In addition, essential workers that work in areas such as law enforcement, transportation, food and education, are also expected to be vaccinated at this point.
April-June: It is expected that healthy, non-essential workers younger than age 65 will begin receiving the vaccine in the spring of 2021. By early summer, the majority of people in the country could be vaccinated. It is not certain whether people who have already had the virus will be vaccinated or when, as they may be immune for at least some time.
The CDC and other medical/epidemiological experts caution that even after widespread vaccination is achieved, life will not return completely to normal, as the vaccines are not 100 percent effective. It will be safer, though, to gather socially and increase indoor activity with others. Employers will hopefully make necessary adjustments to ensure the safe and comfortable reintegration of employees to their workplaces, of which we are certain to hear a lot about as the year goes along.
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