The Beginning of the End?

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Alex Whipkey, Editor

2020 has been an exceptionally long year, mostly due to COVID-19. The horrific virus has now caused the deaths of 300,000 Americans, and it numbers get worse every day. However, with the authorization of two vaccines for the virus, it is possible that the light at the end of the tunnel is coming into view.

 

There are currently two vaccines approved for public use from the companies Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer’s vaccine was approved last week, but its reach was limited due to its storage temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna’s vaccine will be able to penetrate deeper into suburban and rural America because of its storage temperature at around 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, which is normal refrigeration temperature.

 

No one can make or transport 300 million vaccines immediately, though, so supply will be limited for many months. States have set up tiers for who will be eligible for the vaccine at what time. In Indiana, according to in.gov, the first wave of vaccines will go out to people who volunteer or work in healthcare, who have exposure to COVID-19 infected material (e.g. hospital custodial staff), and residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The vaccine is not currently available for children under 16, and pregnant women should ask their doctor before getting vaccinated.

 

The vaccine will be free for all patients. The vaccine administrators will be able to bill the patient’s insurance, but the patient will not have to pay for it themself. Uninsured patients are also protected by a relief fund.

 

Though many experts believe that we are likely to see most restrictions lifted by the middle of 2021, a return to normalcy might not come for a while after that. We will still have to wear masks – even if we are vaccinated – because the vaccines are not yet proven to actually eliminate the virus (they are over 90 percent effective at immunizing against symptoms, but the verdict is not out on transmission). Ultimately, though, if we can achieve herd immunity at 75 or 80 percent vaccinated, and the vaccine rollout goes mostly as planned, the time it will take to get back to normal will depend on how many people decide to get vaccinated.