The decision will set off a nationwide operation to get nearly three million doses to hospitals and drug stores, and then into the arms of vulnerable Americans.
As CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported, this is a huge step forward in the tireless fight against the coronavirus. Once the FDA signs off on the vaccine, the first doses will ship out.
An FDA advisory panel gave the green light to what’s being called a game changer in the pandemic. The committee voted Thursday to recommend an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s new coronavirus vaccine.
It’s expected the FDA will follow the panel’s guidance.
“Within 24 to 48 hours from that advisory committee decision we will actually have shots in arms,” Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas McCaffery said.
The vaccine can’t come soon enough for health care heroes in what was once called the epicenter of the pandemic.
“It certainly gives us a sense of relief, a sense of security that we’ll receive the vaccine and have that level of protection,” said Hackensack University Medical Center President Mark Sparta.
Hackensack University Medical Center is ready to get the vaccine, with a special ultra cold Pfizer freezer that can store about 4,000 doses.
“It needs to be at minus 70 degrees, which is much colder than any of the other vaccines,” Sparta said.
Developing an effective vaccine in record time was a challenge, and delivering it will be another big one. UPS and FedEx have launched a nationwide operation to do so.
Mount Sinai in New York City is eager for distribution — first to its frontline workers, then to the public.
“We’re hopeful that instead of having COVID-19 testing pods, we’re going to have the vaccination pod,” said Susan Mashni, of Mount Sinai Health System.
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Thursday’s vote ended with a final tally of 17 in favor, four opposed and one abstaining.
Some raised concerns about giving the vaccine to 16 and 17 year olds, and there are still questions on the effects of pregnant women and people with severe allergies.
“We’re working very closely with our U.K. partners to understand what went on, with respect to those allergic reactions,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.
While the news is a major step forward, health officials warn there’s still a long way to go.
“[It’s] not an on-off switch where all of a sudden we’re going to see a dramatic change. But the idea that over time, as we vaccinate more and more people, we will ultimately, maybe by mid-year next year 2021, achieve herd immunity,” said Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of NYU Langone Health’s vaccine center.
Tri-State Area officials are expected to share more information about the vaccine rollout Friday.
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