In December 2020, the FDA approved two COVID-19 vaccines through their Emergency Use Authorization. The two vaccines – manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, respectively – both require two doses spaced apart by at least a few weeks. According to the CDC, clinical trials have found the Pfizer vaccine to be 95% effective and the Moderna one to be 94.1% effective (CDC, 2020).
After vaccine authorization, countries needed to create a plan for distributing vaccines. In the United States, the first people to get vaccinated are Group 1A, which is composed of frontline healthcare workers and nursing home personnel. The group is further subdivided based on the amount of patient contact that workers have.
The vaccine rollout plan needs to address not only how to prioritize who receives the vaccination, but also must determine how to mitigate concerns amid those skeptical of the vaccine. According to the most recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, approximately 71% of Americans said they will either definitely or probably get the COVID-19 vaccine when available, while approximately 27% said they would either probably or definitely not get the vaccine, even if it was available and recommend by scientists (Hamel et al., 2020). Vaccinating 71% of the population may not be enough for herd immunity to take effect.
UW Department of Radiology Vice Chair of Clinical Operations and Professor Michael J Tuite, MD, FACR, provided some information on the COVID-19 vaccine for members of the Department. Most Department of Radiology faculty and staff fall into the 1A group, with many already having received the vaccine or an invitation to get vaccinated. For those who have not yet received an invitation, be on the lookout for one soon.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are used at UW Health. People do not get to choose their vaccine, but they will be given the same vaccine for both doses. UW has two locations for providing COVID-19 vaccines. One is at the University Hospital, and the second location is a drive-thru option near The American Center hospital. The vaccine is free to UW health workers.
COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory for UW employees due to the FDA approving the vaccines through emergency authorization. However, polls show that less than 10% of healthcare workers have declined the vaccine, which is significantly lower than polls of the general public indicate. Dr. Tuite relayed some information on the vaccine from current public health expert opinion. While there has not yet been sufficient time for vigorous research, experts believe the vaccine will be effective for the various strains of COVID-19 currently present. Experts also believe the vaccine should be effective for multiple years.
While the vaccine roll-out is promising, it is still important to continue wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing.
CDC. (2020, December 28). Different COVID-19 Vaccines. Retrieved January 04, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html
Hamel, L., Kirzinger, A., Muñana, C., & Brodie, M. (2020, December 22). KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: December 2020. Retrieved January 04, 2021, from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/report/kff-covid-19-vaccine-monitor-december-2020/