With the promise of Covid-19 vaccines on the horizon, there is new hope for relief from the pandemic and a gradual return to normalcy in the new year. But even as this hopeful news breaks, every day continues to bring heartbreak as the virus spikes to new heights throughout the nation. This was expected, Virologists told us there would be a virus resurgence in the cold winter weather as we all spend time inside. Human nature is also kicking in – people are letting their guard down due to pandemic burnout and desire to be with family over the holidays. But hospital and healthcare systems are being stressed again – in some locations, to a crisis point. In response, states are once again tightening restrictions on public activities.
While things look hopeful for the new year, it’s more important than ever to tighten our resolve, keep ourselves and our families safe, and to get through a tough winter. This update offers information on vaccines and when you can expect them, and tools for how to stay safe during the resurgence.
Covid-19 vaccines: when and where?
The vaccine won’t be rolled out until the FDC issues an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), and this is in process. Then, the logistics of rolling out the vaccine will be the largest public health project the nation has ever undertaken. It will be rolled out in phases, with health care providers and the highest risk populations at the front of the line. It’s still early in the planning, but according to the CDC’s interim playbook, they outline three phases of distribution:
- Phase 1 – an initial limited supply of vaccine doses will be prioritized for certain groups and a limited number of providers will administer the vaccine
- Phase 2 – the vaccine supply would increase and expand access to include a broader set of the population, with more providers involved
- Phase 3 – the supply would increase and distribution would be integrated into routine vaccination programs
While Phase 1 is expected to begin as early as December 2020, some estimate that the Phase 3 rollout to the general population will likely be in the late spring or summer at the earliest. Right now, the plan is that the federal government will distribute Covid-19 vaccines to the states, and each state will establish its own plan. The federal government has agreements with major drugstore chains and other organizations, many of which already administer seasonal flu vaccines, and these chains are ramping up. Each state will need to educate residents about eligibility in each of the phases and when and how to secure a vaccine. The early vaccination phases involve many health care organizations and facilities that will be managing their own distribution plans. More specific information for the public will be forthcoming in the new year.
Who Will Get the Coronavirus Vaccine First? – The New York Times answers important questions about the distribution, safety and availability of the shots.
When can I get a vaccine? Find your place in line – the New York Times worked with the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs using their vaccine tool to calculate the number of people who will need Covid-19 vaccines in each state and county — and where you might fit in that line.
USA Today: States scramble to roll out vaccines – USA TODAY Network survey of health officials in all 50 states revealed a patchwork of preparations and different distribution plans that may mean wide variations in what the rollout looks like as it expands across the nation. Every state has its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Find the one for yours here. Each state was required to file a COVID-19 vaccination plan with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
BBC News: Covid vaccine: What you need to know about vaccine safety – Vaccines are already being administered in Great Britain. This explainer from the BBC offers a good discussion about vaccine safety.
KHN: What Seniors Can Expect When COVID Vaccines Begin to Roll Out – Great information for seniors and the family members who love and care for them.
Staying safe during the winter virus resurgence
CDC COVID Data Tracker – are Covid cases going up or down where you live? Track nationally, by state, or drill down to your county to measure various metrics over 7 days or since the beginning of the year. Explore various trends and social impacts, such as “human mobility” (travel) and transmission in your area.
The covid-19 symptoms to watch out for – “Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and the order in which they appear can vary. Some people don’t show any symptoms — what health experts call “asymptomatic” cases — but still could spread the virus to others.
Although this list is not inclusive of every possible symptom, it includes what physicians and health experts have determined are the most common. Some of these symptoms will coincide with one another. Symptoms of a coronavirus infection can emerge anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.”
How 700 Epidemiologists Are Living Now, and What They Think Is Next – cautious optimism is the word. Learn what activities they are engaging in now and what they avoid.
The Swiss Cheese Model of Pandemic Defense – virologist Ian Mackay explains that no single intervention or prevention strategy is foolproof, it takes multiple layers of interventions to protect us. Mask wearing along won’t do it. He uses the analogy of Swiss cheese, showing how it takes multiple interventions, both personal ones that we can do and shared public responsibilities, to create an impenetrable barrier.
Coronavirus holidays – how to celebrate safely – Our prior blog post with tips and tools for having safe holidays during the pandemic.
How to stay healthy & well during coronavirus shutdowns – Our prior blog post includes a variety of tools and resources to help you stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy during coronavirus shutdowns.