COVID-19 FAQ: Your top 7 vaccine questions answered

Friday, December 11, 2020
COVID-19 vaccine: Your top 7 questions, answered
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As the reality of taking a coronavirus vaccine gets closer, we understand you have a lot of questions. We asked health experts about your top 7 concerns.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As Bay Area counties get closer to receiving and distributing the coronavirus vaccine, people have a lot of questions. ABC7 News spoke to health experts to get answers.

RELATED: Have questions about the vaccine? Ask them here

Here are your top 7 most frequently asked questions:

1. Pfizer and Moderna are applying for what's called an EUA -- Emergency Use Authorization. What does that mean?

An EUA is a lower bar of scrutiny and evidence than FDA approval . Before the FDA can issue the authorization, the Department of Health and Human Services must declare an emergency. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, Phase 3 trials will continue even after an EUA is issued.

2. An independent panel voted to recommend an EUA for Pfizer's vaccine, was the vote unanimous?

The panel made up of the world's leading scientists held a marathon meeting on Thursday. Seventeen said yes to the recommendation, four said no. One of those "no's" came from Dr. Fuller from the University of Michigan, who said:

"I have learned in research studies over and over again, and want us to apply wisdom, the longer way around is the shorter route to effectively reach the goal."

Instead of an EUA, she said she was in favor of expanding access in a continuing Phase III study.

3. Who decides, if I'm at risk and eligible to be first in line to get the vaccine?

The answer to this will be complicated, at first. The first shipment of vaccines will be limited - California's expecting just enough to vaccinate about a million people, this month. That's why Governor Newsom released extensive guidelines on distribution, broken down by priorities and tiers. Top of the list are health care workers most at risk, residents of nursing homes and similar settings. Distribution facilities, including hospitals, will then have to deliberate on the best way to distribute the vaccines based on the guidelines. The state will likely look to its own committee panel on distribution for continuing guidance.

UCSF's Dr. Wachter warned, the logistics will be complicated until more vaccines are available.

"There's room for screw ups and speed bumps and politics and so it's going to be interesting."

4. When will law enforcement get the vaccine?

In the Governor's Phase 1A of distribution, there are three tiers of priority, all in health care. Police are not included and neither are other essential workers.

You can read more about the tiers here.

5. Vaccinations will likely not expand to other groups until more doses are available, which are expected in the first half of 2021. When will kids get it?

The vaccine is currently for 16 years and older, only. That could all change when COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available with full FDA approval.

6. How effective is the vaccine?

In a ten-month period, Pfizer tested more than 40,000 people and reported their vaccine is 95% effective and that the safety over a two-month period was similar to other viral vaccines.

Extensive results were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found here: Moderna has reported that their vaccine is 94.5% effective.

7. What are the possible side effects?

In the UK, they are now investigating two cases of severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer shot. Both cases had prior history of allergic reactions. Concerns over side effects have been raised by the FDA's advisory panel which will continue to scrutinize companies releasing vaccines.

VIDEO: 1st person in US to try COVID-19 vaccine talks side effects

If you have a question or comment about the COVID-19 vaccine, submit via the form below or here.