What does the Pfizer EUA approval mean?
This means the first Covid-19 vaccination has been deemed safe and effective. It will now be distributed by each state to the most vulnerable populations, starting with frontline workers and the elderly. Subsequently, the vaccine will be accessible to additional populations as outlined below.
How effective are these vaccines?
The Pfizer vaccine demonstrated 95% efficacy in clinical trials, with Moderna showing 94% efficacy. Furthermore, a recent FDA study showed high levels of efficacy for the Pfizer vaccine even after just 10 days from the first dose (of two total). The FDA has found it to be efficacious in all population segments, which is especially important for the most at-risk, elderly and sick. This all bodes well for the other vaccines currently seeking approval.
When will the vaccine be available?
Industry experts believe that the vaccine will be available to high risk groups in late 2020/early 2021 and then to the general population in mid-to-late 2021. Below, please find a chart from the CDC on when the different populations are projected to have access as well as an FAQ about the vaccine process.
How are vaccines distributed?
Once vaccinations are approved by the FDA, distribution is funneled through state governments and government contracts. It will be allocated based on a tiered system, the first of which will include high-risk populations, including healthcare workers and nursing home patients. Sollis is working tirelessly to have the vaccine available for members through appropriate channels and will continue to update you on vaccine availability.
I think I’m considered high risk. Will you be able to get the vaccine for me before the general population? If not, what should I do?
You may call us at any time to discuss your medical history and any concerns you have so that we can better assess your situation. We are working to obtain vaccines during early phases to distribute to high risk populations and front line workers. While we focus on obtaining the vaccine for our members, we advise that you also contact your primary care physician as his or her office may serve as an additional resource for obtaining the Covid-19 vaccine.
Who is considered an essential worker?
Our top priority remains distributing the vaccine to those at highest risk for severe Covid-19 illness or Covid-19 mortality. Status as an essential worker will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by Sollis Health. As broadly defined by the federal government, essential industries include energy, child care, water and wastewater, agriculture and food production, critical retail, critical trades, financial services, exchanges, retail banking, media, transportation, nonprofits and social service organizations.
Do we know if the vaccine has side effects?
Trials by both Moderna and Pfizer will continue even after FDA authorization. In previous studies, there were no severe adverse reactions noted with either vaccine. Roughly half of trial participants experienced the kind of temporary mild symptoms one may experience after a flu vaccination, such as chills, body aches, fever or headache. Longer term safety data is not known. Popular press and media have reported cases of side effects of the vaccine, but these reports should be taken with a grain of salt until the data is properly analyzed by experts.
Which vaccination has the highest efficacy? What does that actually mean?
Efficacy means that in clinical study conditions, the vaccine reduces the risk of getting Covid-19 in someone who is vaccinated versus unvaccinated by the percent reported. If the vaccine has 95% efficacy, then, in the study, it reduced the risk of Covid-19 in someone who was vaccinated by 95%. Effectiveness refers to how well the vaccine reduces risk of Covid-19 in real world conditions. Effectiveness isn’t known until the vaccine has been used widely in the general population.
Below is a recent update of the different manufacturers racing to market, the efficacy, number of doses and dosage timing. Please note that this is a dynamic situation and the information here is subject to change.
The normal approval process for vaccinations can take 5 to 10 years. During a pandemic, the government approves an expedited approval process. Here is a recent chart outlining the approval process for each manufacturer.
We know you will have more questions regarding the vaccines as the weeks pass. Sollis will keep you informed on new developments as we receive them. As always, Sollis is here for you day or night, for any and all your medical needs. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.