The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine: Here’s What You Need to Know
The FDA has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, and the first vaccinations have already begun. This is an exciting milestone, as it has the potential to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19.
“Historically speaking, vaccines represent the most impactful measure in combatting pandemics,” shares Dr. Albert Munanga, Regional Director of Health & Wellness at Era Living. “The same should be true as with the COVID-19 vaccine, once enough of the population gets vaccinated.”
We encourage everyone to educate themselves on how the vaccine works against the coronavirus, as well as the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. We’ve put together some resources from the Washington State Department of Health and CDC to help get you started.
Who will the COVID-19 vaccine be available to first?
The CDC is recommending that the COVID-19 vaccine be first distributed to healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. In Washington, the State Department of Health is estimating that between 300,000 and 500,000 people will be eligible for the vaccine in phase 1, which includes residents and staff at Era Living retirement communities. You can learn more about our vaccination roll-out plan here.
When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available to everyone?
It is not known yet when the vaccine will be available to more people. The Washington State Department of Health will know more about who will be vaccinated in later phases based on input and decisions made by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
COVID-19 vaccines are designed to help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses to be effective, given 21 days apart. In clinical trials, the vaccine was proven to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection starting seven days after the second dose. To learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work, and the different types of COVID-19 vaccines that are still undergoing clinical trials, visit the CDC’s overview here.
How do I know if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?
Clinical trials are designed to test safety and effectiveness of vaccines. The clinical trials used to test the COVID-19 vaccines are being conducted according to the standards set by the FDA in their June 2020 guidance document, which you can review here.
After a vaccine is approved and authorized for use, safety monitoring systems are in place to watch for possible side effects that were not discovered in clinical trials. You can learn more about how clinical trials work and current safety monitoring systems for the COVID-19 vaccines in this overview from the CDC.
Do I still have to take precautions if I am vaccinated?
Yes, it is recommended that people who get vaccinated still take the same precautions to protect against COVID-19, including wearing masks, washing your hands, physical distancing, etc. It is not yet known if you can still spread COVID-19 to others once you have been vaccinated. Because many people in the state won’t receive the vaccine yet for months, it’s important that everyone does their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to those who have not been vaccinated.
When will life return to normal?
While we know a vaccine is on the way, there are still months of uncertainty ahead, and it’s important for all of us to stay vigilant against this virus to help protect ourselves and others. Visit our full list of blogs for more resources on thriving in these extraordinary times.