A Light at the End of the Tunnel

With the quick poke of a needle, the US entered into the next phase in its fight against the Coronavirus.

Evelyn Wiethorn, Staff Writer

On December 11th, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the first emergency use of the Coronavirus vaccine.The approval of vaccine represents a giant leap in the fight against the virus that has infected over 21 million Americans and has left over 350,000 dead

Described by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as the weapon that will end the war,” the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine brings hope to millions of Americans living in fear of this deadly virus.  

There has been debate over who should receive the vaccine first, as some health expects say the older individuals with the highest mortality rate should be first in line. Nevertheless, frontline healthcare workers have been approved to receive the first doses of the vaccine.

Dr. Robert Biederman, a cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital, was one of the first people in Allegheny County to receive the vaccine. He has recently shared his experience, 

“I did not have to go through any procedure,” Biederman said. “I just had to be determined as an ‘essential worker.’ As a cardiologist, that wasn’t too difficult, considering that after the lungs, it [the virus] hits the heart the hardest.” 

In Pennsylvania, the vaccine is only currently eligible for frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff. Although it has not yet been confirmed, it is suspected that the next batch of vaccines will likely be distributed to other essential workers and those 75 years of age and older, as they pose the next greatest risk of death.

“The next people to receive the vaccine will likely be the medical staff not determined to be ‘essential workers,”’ said Dr. Biederman 

As millions of people around the world wait to have their chance to receive the vaccine, others say they will not take it at all. Surprisingly, a recent survey showed that only 42% to 61% of Americas plan to receive the vaccine when it becomes available to the public. It is impossible the predict the fate of those unwilling to get the vaccine, but if the majority of people get vaccinated those unwilling to receive the shot may be safe due to the resulting herd immunity. 

Despite the vaccine’s distribution, health officials still encourage people to follow COVID-19 guidelines as only a small percent of people have been vaccinated so far. Nonetheless, millions of people across the nation continue to ignore mask and social distancing recommendations, which have most likely contributed to the record 200,000 cases and 2,500 Covid-related deaths reported each day. 

The exact date that the vaccine will be available across the U.S. remains unknown, but some health officials predict it will be available to the public by the spring or summer of 2021.

“I expect it will take 4-6 months to fully distribute,’’ said Dr. Biederman, “and even then there may be stragglers.” 

The COVID-19 vaccine is a powerful weapon in the fight against the deadly virus. The fight is far from over, as the numbers of deaths and Covid infections continue to increase at alarming levels. COVID-19 is an enemy that can be defeated; but only if Americans follow the health guidelines, get vaccinated, and take the threat seriously.