As of today, there have been over 24 million cases of Coronavirus in the United States; about 400,000 of those cases have resulted in death. Most of us by now know of someone who has either had the virus or has died from it. It has been pointed out that elderly people and people with underlying conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, etc.) may carry a higher risk for complications and even death. The exponential increase in the number of cases and deaths worldwide caused several companies to make a vaccine to help prevent this disease.
In the United States, two vaccines have been developed; one by Pfizer and one by Moderna. These vaccines were made in a state of emergency, meaning that they were expedited in order to gain control over this life-altering virus. The trials conducted with these vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and will help reduce the risk of getting COVID-19. In the event that we do contract the virus, the vaccine will help reduce the severity of the symptoms. More studies and data collection will occur over time with these vaccines, but as of right now, they are proven to be effective.
In regard to Pediatrics, as of today, an adolescent of 16 years of age and above may get the vaccine. Trials are currently being conducted on adolescents older than 12 on a volunteer basis. At this time, a 16-year-old adolescent that has asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or other underlying conditions will fall into Phase 1b of vaccine distribution. In the upcoming months, more vaccines will become available.
In the meantime, how can we control the pandemic? You can start by always wearing a mask, keeping your distance (6 ft is the recommended minimum), avoid touching your face, and avoid social gatherings with 10 or more people. Most importantly, if you are eligible to receive the vaccine, do so. Historically, vaccines have helped control and even eradicate certain diseases. We can only hope that this will do the same.
Dr. Laura Burgos