When could a COVID-19 vaccine become widely available?

Vaccine timeline

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Doctors are cautioning that a COVID-19 vaccine that’s available to everybody could take some time. We spoke with the state health officer about when it could become available statewide.

“We think we may have as many as six products on the market at one time before this is all said and done with,” Dr. Scott Harris said.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris is talking about the number of vaccine products that we could see on the market in the coming months. Monday, the state health department said healthcare providers and the chronically ill in Alabama could get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as mid-December. Harris says it will likely be a while though before the vaccine is distributed to the general public.

“It’s going to be next summer before we have so much out there that we actually have some kind of competition for it,” Harris said.

The leading vaccine candidates are from Moderna and Pfizer. Moderna claims its vaccine is more than 94% effective. Pfizer says its vaccine is more than 90% effective. Both companies are expected to seek emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

It’s important to note that a vaccine isn’t a quick fix. It will take time to be approved and administered. Harris says not every vaccine is going to be available for every person.

“If one company does a study that has a lot of seniors in it, but the other company doesn’t have that many seniors then maybe only one of those vaccines will be approved for seniors or similarly. Maybe only one company is looking at diabetics or looking at people with cancer,” Harris said.

Doctors agree the vaccine news is very promising and that it could mean there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But until then, they say people still need to practice social distancing and wear your face masks because COVID isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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