FDA authorizes both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use
After nearly 10 months of a devastating pandemic, two vaccines are now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use.
The first vaccine, from Pfizer, received emergency authorization on December 11 and distribution began the week of December 14. The second vaccine, from Moderna, received its approval on December 18 with distribution expected to begin soon after.
Across the nation, the first round of vaccines will go to health care personnel who provide direct care to patients, as well as the staff and patients of long-term care facilities.
BJC is offering the vaccines to our health care heroes who have worked passionately and tirelessly on the front lines of the pandemic to care for our communities. They are truly the pride of BJC HealthCare, and we thank them for their continued compassion, excellence and resiliency.
More from BJC:
When will the vaccine be available to the public?
Decisions about who to prioritize for access to a COVID-19 vaccine are made by federal and state public health agencies, and BJC is required to follow these prioritization decisions.
After front-line health care workers have had an opportunity to receive the vaccine, it will then be available to essential workers, such as teachers, food service workers, first responders and those who support critical infrastructures such as power and utilities. After that, it will be offered to people with conditions that make them high-risk for complications from COVID-19, including those age 65 and older.
Then, several months into 2021, the vaccine is expected to be available to the general public. Vaccines for the public will likely be coordinated by local public health departments, which are now planning how to administer those vaccinations.
Is the vaccine approved — and is it safe and effective?
Both vaccines were approved by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), a process the federal government uses during an emergency to authorize use of a vaccine, drug or medical device that is not yet licensed or that is licensed for a different purpose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a thorough and scientific process to evaluate vaccine safety before granting emergency use authorization.
Clinical trials from both Pfizer and Moderna show an estimated 95% and 94.5% effective rate for these initial vaccines, respectively. The clinical trials do show possible side effects, including fever and body aches. The vaccine is the best defense against the virus and an important step toward eradicating community spread.
Learn more about the process to monitor and ensure vaccine safety and efficacy.
Remember to maintain important safety measures
Now, more than ever, with hope on the horizon, it’s important to stay focused on safety. It will be many months before the community reaches a vaccination rate that will enable everyone to relax those measures — so it’s critical to continue to practice safety measures to protect against COVID-19 infection:
- Continue to wear masks when you leave your homes or when you cannot maintain 6 feet of space from others.
- Remember to practice physical distancing.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid crowds and stay home unless fulfilling essential needs like work, school, shopping and medical care.