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As 2020 finally comes to an end, so does the latest chapters of the coronavirus pandemic. Or at least, the world is finally and hopefully witnessing the beginning of the end. Thus, this Monday, the very first vaccine shots are being given to the health workers in the United States. After the virus killed more than 1,62 of the world’s population, many are hoping that the vaccine provides the solution. 

A limited number of doses

Even though the first-line healthcare workers, as well as people living in long term care facilities, are almost the only ones eligible for this vaccine at the moment, the current number of doses isn’t nearly enough. Therefore, even among those in need of it, some will be prioritized more than others. Unfortunately, the doses are by no means enough to supply all the doctors, nurses, security guards, receptionists, and other workers who risk exposure to the virus every day.

Thus, states have urged hospitals, health facilities, and providers to submit requests for doses. Then, the state will provide them according to several factors.

Authorized under emergency use

Despite the ongoing testing, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is still not fully approved as a licensed medical product. However, the government announced that it is authorized under emergency use. Thus, the data on its long term safety along with effectiveness isn’t as robust as that of an approved final product. Therefore, patients and health workers are given the option of whether to get vaccinated or not.

On the other hand, the government wouldn’t have approved it if they weren’t sure of its overall safety. Moreover, as the covid-19 casualties cross to reach more than 300 thousand deaths, the necessity of the vaccine is vital now more than ever.

A weapon to end the war

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday morning that he “believes this is the weapon that will end the war.” Moreover, Ms. Lindsay, a nurse and the director of patient services in the intensive care unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, said that she “hoped her public vaccination would instill confidence that the shots were safe”. Ms. Lindsay was making history as not only the first person ever to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside of the trials but also while being a woman of color.

“I have seen the alternative, and do not want it for you,” she said. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”

Additionally, the mayor of New York City also announced during a news conference “To me, we were watching an incredibly historic moment and the beginning of something much better for this city and this country.”

Symbolic Importance

As a part of the demographic most hurt by the pandemic, Ms. Lindsay highlighted the symbolic importance of her volunteering to be the first one to receive the vaccine. Furthermore, for so long, African-Americans have been subjected to many forms of unethical medical research, thus turning them rightfully weary against the vaccine. Therefore, as a black woman, Ms. Lindsay’s actions will help them rebuild their trust in the medical field. 

“I want people who look like me and are associated with me to know it’s safe,” she said. “Use me as an example. I would not steer the public wrong.”

 Residents of nursing homes are next in line to receive the vaccine next week. However, a huge number of American citizens won’t be eligible for the vaccine until the spring or later. For now, those who are risking their lives to save others should continue to have the priority. 

References:

Ibrahim, A. (2020, December 14). ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine. Coronavirus Pandemic News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/14/trump-to-nix-plan-for-early-covid19-vaccine-at-white-house-liveKwai, I. (2020, December 15). U.S. Starts Vaccine Rollout as High-Risk Health Care Workers Go First. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/12/14/world/covid-19-coronavirusPark, A., Ducharme, J., & Hennigan, W. J. (2020, December 15). How the First COVID-19 Vaccinations Rolled Out at Hospitals Across the U.S. Time. https://time.com/5921608/covid-19-vaccine-rollout-hospitals/Who is really ‘first in line’ for the vaccine? It depends on your state. (2020, December 12). Science. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/12/who-is-really-first-in-line-coronavirus-vaccine-states-not-guaranteed/