COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives in Central PA

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Photo courtesy of the Altoona Mirror photo by William Kibler

UPMC Altoona emergency department nurse Brittany Leese was one of the first of five to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the course of this year we have seen the beginning, the middle, and now hopefully the endgame of the COVID-19 pandemic also seems to be in sight.

On Friday, December 18 the Pfizer vaccine was first administered in central Pennsylvania at UPMC Hospital in Altoona. The Van Zandt Veterans Hospital in Altoona is also expected to receive the newly approved Moderna vaccine this week.

UPMC Emergency Department nurse Brittany Leese received the first dose of the vaccine in Altoona.

Let’s say we get 75 percent, 80 percent of the population vaccinated. If we do that, if we do it efficiently enough over the second quarter of 2021, by the time we get to the end of the summer, i.e., the third quarter, we may actually have enough herd immunity protecting our society that as we get to the end of 2021, we can approach very much some degree of normality that is close to where we were before”

— Dr. Anthony Fauci

Getting vaccinated “eased my mind,” Leese told the Altoona Mirror on Friday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert recently gave a timeline for the end of COVID-19.

“Let’s say we get 75 percent, 80 percent of the population vaccinated,” Fauci said. “If we do that, if we do it efficiently enough over the second quarter of 2021, by the time we get to the end of the summer, i.e., the third quarter, we may actually have enough herd immunity protecting our society that as we get to the end of 2021, we can approach very much some degree of normality that is close to where we were before.”

This means that a significant amount of people have to be willing to be vaccinated. The threat of COVID-19 has overshadowed 2020 making it into a year of masks and fear.

While there is a chance for normalcy with the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine, Fauci says that if only 40-50% of people become vaccinated herd immunity will take a lot longer to achieve.

Herd immunity is the protection of a population from a virus if a threshold of vaccinations is reached. In this case the required amount of the population required to achieve herd immunity is 75-80%.

According to the CDC’s numbers, 556,208 vaccine doses have already been administered worldwide. These have been given primarily to higher risk people and healthcare providers who deal with the virus everyday.

While its true that the efficacy of the vaccines are around 95% that does not mean that the effectiveness against COVID-19 is 95%

Efficacy is simply measurement made during a clinical whereas effectiveness is how well a vaccine works in the real world without specifically controlled groups inside a study.

It is possible that the efficacy rate will match the effectiveness of the vaccine; it is rare that this happens. This is due to the fact that clinical trials are very controlled and the real world in comparison is hectic.

It is important to note that vaccines will not immediately stop COVID-19. Vaccines are meant to slow viruses and stop new infection rates. Seeing as only a small percentage of people are currently vaccinated, the coronavirus still has a strong hold over the world.

It is important to remember that it is not the individual vaccines that stop the virus but everyone actually getting them. It is the only way to reach herd immunity so that we can all go back to normal.