Alabama vaccine director estimates timeline on herd immunity after Pfizer vaccine news

What's the timeline for getting a vaccine?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The news of the Pfizer vaccine’s proclaimed success excited many people, but it’s not the time to let your guard down.

It’s important to know that a vaccine isn’t a quick fix and will take time to be approved and administered. The claim, 90% effectiveness in Pfizer’s first analysis, makes doctors optimistic, but also cautious.

“If we assume this is going to be a 90% effective vaccine for everybody, which is a big assumption, then the amount needed for herd immunity isn’t quite as much,” said Dr. Paul Goepfert, director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic.

Herd immunity would be achieved over time, but it would still require the majority of people to be vaccinated.

“I suspect, we’re still talking about, you still probably need 60 percent of the population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, but it’s not like measles where you need 90 plus percent,” Dr. Goepfert said.

Pfizer’s vaccine is also not yet FDA approved, and there will be logistical challenges distributing it.

“This has to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius, and as you probably know, most pharmacies don’t have that kind of storage facility,” he said.

Given multiple factors, social distancing and masks are here to stay through 2021.

“To get to where we don’t have to wear masks anymore, I’m going to say a year from now,” said the doctor.

If all goes well, the first vaccine dosages could be given this December.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.