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Vials of the Covid-19 vaccine are packed in rows.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccination against the global COVID-19 pandemic is finally underway in the U.S. According to the New York Times, around 4.8 million people have been vaccinated as of January 5th. Here is what you need to know about the current state of COVID-19 vaccination.

Vaccination

Vaccination is a way of preventing a viral infection. It is not meant to cure someone who is already infected. The COVID-19 vaccine is a solution injected into the body that contains a germ similar to the virus. By doing this, the body’s immune system learns how to detect the virus and how to fight it. Don’t fear the vaccine. The germ inside is not a live form of the COVID-19 virus.

The U.S. Vaccine

The U.S. is currently distributing two separate vaccines. One is the vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech, the other is made by Moderna.

Each vaccine uses the mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid), a new technology in medicine. Essentially, instead of injecting the virus into your body, the mRNA causes the body to create its own viral proteins. The immune system then fights these proteins, creating protection against the virus.

Recipients

The first people to receive the vaccine were high-up members of the federal government. For the citizens, the U.S. is using a tiered system for who will get vaccinated when. The vaccinations will come in phases. Phase 1 has an A, B, C structure. People in Phase 1a will get the vaccine first. Then it goes to those in Phase 1b, and so forth. The current vaccination phases look like this:

  • Phase 1a:
    • Healthcare workers, including:
      • Emergency medical service personnel
      • Nurses and nursing assistants
      • Physicians
      • Technicians
      • Therapists
      • Dentists
      • Dental hygienists and assistants
      • Phlebotomists
      • Pharmacists
      • Students and trainees
      • Contractual staff
      • Dietary and food services staff
      • Environmental services staff
      • Administrative staff
    • Residents of long-term care facilities. These are people who cannot care for themselves and live in places like nursing homes, mental institutions, etc.
  • Phase 1b
    • Frontline essential workers, including:
      • Firefighters
      • Police officers
      • Food and agricultural workers
      • United States Postal Service employees
      • Manufacturing workers
      • Grocery store staff
      • Public transportation workers
      • Educational staff
    • Senior citizens 75 years or older
  • Phase 1c
    • Senior citizens between 65 and 75 years old
    • Citizens between 16 and 64 years old who have existing medical conditions, such as immune disorders, that are at a higher risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19.
    • Essential workers not classified as “frontline,” including:
      • Logistics workers
      • Food service workers
      • Housing workers – including construction and finance
      • IT workers
      • Communications workers
      • Energy workers
      • Lawyers and their staff
      • Members of the media
      • Public safety workers
      • Public health workers (This is different from “healthcare workers,” who provide direct contact and treatment to patients.)

Distribution

Physical distribution and tracking of the vaccine are being handled by the federal government. The Centers for Disease Control is working closely with all local governments for individualized vaccine plans. Stay tuned to the information in your area for when, where, and how you can be vaccinated. The vaccine requires cold temperatures for shipping and storage.

COVAX

The World Health Organization has initiated the ACT (Access to COVID-19 Tools) Accelerator as a means of fast tracking global COVID-19 related services like testing, treatment, and vaccination. COVAX is the WHO’s vaccination branch of the ACT-Accelerator. By incentivizing production of a vaccine for drug companies, COVAX was able to get a vaccine ready in far less time than what is normal for a novel virus.

Cost

As of now, the vaccine itself doesn’t cost citizens anything. There may be an administrative fee for whichever facility is giving out the vaccine, but that fee will likely be covered by insurance companies.

Effectiveness

Keep your masks. Unfortunately, the vaccine – in its current form – is not a magical shield against COVID-19. Even when you take the shot, it may take a few weeks for your immune system to fully create immunity to the virus. You could be infected during that time. If you were infected just before you took your vaccine, you could still get sick. Some people have been infected with COVID-19 twice, so it’s a good idea to get vaccinated even if you already beat COVID in the past. The information, at this stage, is too sparse to guarantee that someone who was vaccinated will definitely be fine. It’s best to view the vaccine as a precaution, not a cure-all.

If you have legal questions about your right to the COVID-19 vaccine, we are here to help. Consultations are free and there’s no risk involved, so call today at (972) 460-9339 or contact us online.

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