COVID-19 vaccine expected to be available to general population by April, health care workers earlier

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A third major COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be effective as health experts hope an end to the pandemic is near.

All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed. However, hospitals are already getting ready to give a vaccine to their employees.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90 percent effective, giving public health officials hope that they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

AstraZeneca now joins both Pfizer and Moderna for high success rates for a vaccine. If the FDA approves the vaccines, health care workers and first responders would likely begin getting it by December 14th.

It is not known who would get which vaccine yet but Mercy Medical Center already has the freezers to store its doses.

“Because this will be a federal and then a state directed distribution. They will likely only provide one for one particular region to try and avoid the confusion, that would come if there were multiple vaccines with different protocols. We would await that information and review the science behind it,” said Dr. Robert Roose, Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Medical Center.

The vaccines will be free and the healthy U.S. population is expected to have access to the vaccine beginning in April.

Pfizer intends to have 50 million doses available by the end of this year, and up to 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

Baystate Health president and CEO Dr. Mark Keroack said Baystate needs at least 7,000 doses of the vaccine to successfully vaccinate its staff.

“We are making plans right now to make sure we can get it off without a hitch. A lot of things need to happen make it happen smoothly. Not the least of which we get the allocation we get the numbers of vaccine doses we need to vaccinate everybody,” said Keroack.

Globally, the U.S. continues to lead the way in coronavirus cases and virus-related deaths, with more than 12 million diagnoses and more than 258,000 deaths.

Healthcare workers and first responders will get it first, the general public will get it sometime next Spring.

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