A COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool in fighting the novel coronavirus. There are multiple vaccines in development, two of which are currently under review for emergency use authorization. A vaccine could be ready for distribution as early as December 2020 for priority groups and as early as spring/summer 2021 for the general public.
Some groups will be prioritized in phases to receive the vaccine first. These phased priorities will be determined by the CDC’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is a non-governmental group of medical and public health experts. Below is an estimated timeline based on current projections.
✔️ Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through all of the same steps and met the same standards that are used for developing other vaccines. The difference with the COVID-19 vaccine is that all steps were completed at the same time in order to speed up the process. The vaccines made available to the public will undergo emergency use authorization from the FDA and approval from the CDC’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
✔️ When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available?
It is likely that at least one COVID-19 vaccine will be available in December 2020 for a limited number of people. The first groups to receive the vaccine will be healthcare providers and nursing homes. Over time, the type of people who can receive the vaccine will expand as the number of vaccine doses increases. It is likely that the vaccine will not be available for the general public until spring/summer 2021.
✔️ How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need?
The number of doses needed is dependent on the vaccine, but most will require 2 doses. The second dose is very important. One dose will not provide protection. Most of the vaccines will require you to get the second dose 2 to 4 weeks after the first dose. It is also important that the second dose is the same vaccine that you received the first time.
✔️ When I get the COVID-19 vaccine, does that mean I don’t have to wear a mask any longer?
No, you will still have to wear a mask for a while longer. It will take some time for your body to be protected by the vaccine and for high numbers of people in the community to receive it. It will also take some time for scientists and public health experts to determine how the vaccine impacts the spread of disease. Once the majority of New Orleanians have received the vaccine and transmission rates are reduced, we will be able to reopen more fully and end the mask mandate.
✔️ Will the COVID-19 vaccine be free?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the government will be free to the person receiving the vaccine. Depending on where you receive your vaccine, you may be asked for health insurance information.
✔️ If I had COVID-19, do I still need to get the vaccine?
The current science shows that natural immunity from a COVID-19 infection may not last long, so it is currently recommended that everyone receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have tested positive for COVID-19.