Every day the numbers go up.
Since mid-March, the United States has been battling a virus that continues to spread no matter what measures are taken.
There are currently over 13 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19. We have recorded almost 300,000 deaths in this country alone.
Almost everyone we know has either had the virus or knows someone who has had it. And it did not go away after the election, as was predicted by some political pundits.
But it is possible there is some good news on the virus front.
There are reportedly three Coronavirus vaccines in the works right now. The best news, according to the companies who developed them, the effective rates range from ninety to ninety-five percent.
One expert who has spent thirty-five years in vaccine development says the results are very uncommon.
He said the effectiveness is due to a new way of administering the drug. Instead of giving the individual a dead or weakened virus, the vaccine only contains a tiny fragment of the actual virus. According to experts, this method allows the body to train its immune system to fight off the virus when it encounters it.
The companies must now get approval from the Food and Drug Administration for it to be distributed.
How the drug will be distributed will be the next hurdle for the companies.
The government plans to allot the vaccine to the states based on population.
Earlier this year, the CDC required each state to outline its capacity for distributing the vaccine. They were given a deadline to submit their plans.
Alabama’s plan includes a three- phase approach to COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health website.
Phase I will target those at highest risk and highest risk of exposure, such as first responders and health care workers.
Phase 2 will target critical populations who were not vaccinated in phase 1.
Phase 3 will include all unvaccinated groups.
Sounds like a plan. But like all plans, we may need a backup plan.
The biggest obstacle to the effectiveness of a vaccine may not rest in the development or distribution. The impediment could be finding a way to convince people to get immunized.
There is much concern about whether enough Americans will get vaccinated in order to slow down the spread of the virus.
Many Americans still refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. The odds of them lining up to get a “warp speed” vaccine is slim and none.
The public is very divided on the best way to recover from the virus while some even deny its existence entirely.
One nurse in South Dakota recently made headlines when she did an interview and expressed her disbelief at the reaction of some COVID-19 patients. She said she has been called names because of the PPE equipment she is required to wear to treat them. She was heartbroken because some of the patients dying words were used to refute the claims the virus is even real.
A recent poll showed that 77 percent of its participants will refuse to take a vaccine because they believe the vaccine could get approval before its safety and effectiveness are known.
Many people have concerns about the side effects of the vaccine because of how quickly it was developed.
There is even a conspiracy theory floating around that the vaccine will contain a surveillance microchip in order to spy on our daily activities.
Politicizing the virus did nothing to make things easier as people had to choose sides on many of the guidelines issued by the CDC.
Medical experts believe that a COVID-19 vaccine is essential to returning to some sense of normalcy for us.
Scientists estimate that to control the virus, 7 or 8 out of 10 people need to be immune. That means 250 million out of the 330 million people will need to reach immunity. Those numbers are staggering.
Currently there is no information on how long immunity following the vaccine will last. A vaccinated person can still spread the virus if they are infected and are asymptomatic. Doctors say there will still be a need for masks and social distancing even after the vaccine is distributed in order to slow or stop the spread.
The prospect of an effective vaccine being developed only to be ignored by the public will be frustrating.
No vaccine ensures everyone who takes it is protected. It will take time to assess its effectiveness. But it is the best shot we have right now for getting our lives back to normal.
History reflects that vaccines have virtually eliminated the risk of many preventable diseases. It is possible this one could have the same result if utilized.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.