COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives in the United States


Jenna Rowen-Delson, Staff Writer

Quarantines, mask mandates, and fear: more than nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic it looks like there’s finally a bright light at the end of the tunnel. 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has said on its website that COVID-19 vaccines are one of the many important tools to help us stop the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, it’s still vital that everyone covers their mouths and noses with masks when around others, stays at least six feet apart, avoids crowds, and washes their hands often.

As Johns Hopkins Medicine states, “An effective vaccine will protect a person who receives it by lowering their chances of getting COVID-19 if they encounter the coronavirus. Widespread vaccination for the coronavirus means that the virus will not infect as many people. This will limit spread through communities.”

The COVID-19 vaccines have already been distributed to sparse groups around the United States. 1,008,025 shots have been administered as of Wednesday, December 23, according to the CDC. Healthcare workers are a priority when it comes to the vaccine. According to USA Today, police, firefighters, and teachers are among the next in line.

Members of the United States Congress have also been prioritized. Many politicians even showed their taking of the vaccine on social media and TV, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President-elect Joe Biden.

Several Republican politicians who previously downplayed the virus now face backlash for taking the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes Senator Joni Ernst and Texas Governor Greg Abbot. The limited supply for groups eligible for the vaccine has also fueled the criticism these politicians are receiving.

New York State’s own Vaccination Program includes five phases, and within each phase, prioritizations are made based on vaccination rates and vaccine availability. Healthy adults and children are in the last phase, phase five. 

There are two leading COVID-19 vaccines currently in the U.S.: Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines are taken in two doses, are effective across gender and race, and are up to 95 percent effective. However, Pfizer’s shots are 21 days apart, while the Moderna vaccine shots are 28 days apart. Pzifer’s age authorization is also slightly lower. 

One main concern among US citizens is that the vaccine was made so quickly. However there are many explanations for that. For one, years of former research on related viruses and faster ways to manufacture vaccines helped with the speed at which this particular vaccine was made.  Second, the slowest part of developing a vaccine is usually the funding. Because we’re in the middle of an international pandemic, billions of dollars from around the world were poured into vaccine research, allowing trials and tests to move along at a much faster pace and also allowing for more financial risks to be taken. 

No steps in the process of vaccine development were missed or condensed in the making of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines must pass tests and standards, as well as be authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which it has.

The CDC states on its website, “Clinical trials of all vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be authorized or approved for use, including COVID-19 vaccines. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization.” 

Common side effects include pain and swelling in the arm where the vaccine is inserted. Other side effects include fever, chills, tiredness, and headaches. All effects shouldn’t last more than a few days.

In a poll of 221 Monroe-Woodbury High School students, 64 percent said they’d be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.

“I personally will be taking [the vaccine] to protect those around me and hopefully slow the spread,” said sophomore Jenna Matise.

“I want the virus to be over and I trust the doctors and scientists who created the vaccine,” added Avlinn Jaskowski.

Emma Filinow gave her opinion; “I believe a vaccine is our last chance to slow/stop the spread. Obviously our current solutions aren’t working.”

However, some students disagreed. 

“[I] don’t feel like taking a vaccine that was rushed,” said junior Cody Shapiro.

“I don’t think they know enough about Covid to have an effective vaccine,” said sophomore Abby Maldonaldo. 

The United States of America has had 20.8 million cases of COVID-19. There have been over 352,000 deaths.