Article By: Xiaolin Cai
In California, we are in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distributions, and within the first phase there are three phases: phase 1A, phase 1B, and phase 1C, which determines which groups of individuals are prioritized to get the vaccine first. The COVID-19 vaccines are free.
In phase 1A, vaccines will be distributed to healthcare workers and long term care residents. Phase 1B is separated into two tiers. In tier one are individuals who are 75 and older as well as those at risk of exposure due to work which will be individuals who work in education, child care, emergency services and food and agriculture. In the second tier are those who are 65-74 years old and those at risk due to work which will include individuals who work in transportation and logistics; industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services; and critical manufacturing and congregate setting with outbreak risk: incarcerated and homeless. In the third phase, phase 1C, individuals who are 50-64 years old as well as anyone who is between the ages of 16 and 49 who have an underlying health condition or disability which can increase their risks of severe COVID-19 will be eligible for the vaccine. As well as those who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 from work which includes anyone who works in water and wastewater, defense, energy, chemical and hazardous materials, communications, IT, financial services, and government operations/community-based essential work will also receive the vaccine.
So far, the best estimate of when the general public will be able to get the vaccine is spring 2021, but this can change depending on the vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available. Individuals who have had COVID-19 before are also encouraged to still get the vaccine. The vaccines are not recommended for children and trials are still ongoing to try and identify a vaccine that is safe for children. So, currently the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is for anyone age 16 and up and the Moderna vaccine is for anyone age 18 and up. The first two COVID-19 vaccines are shown to be 94-95% efficient.
It is recommended to take two doses of the vaccine which will make it more effective. Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should be taken 21 days apart and two doses of the Moderna vaccine 28 days apart.
Even after someone receives the vaccine, they should still wear a mask, stay at home, social distance and take all the safety precautions because it is still possible for them to spread COVID-19.