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Vaccine on the way, but don't toss your masks just yet

Experts discuss vaccine distribution
Posted at 6:57 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 18:57:18-05

INDIANAPOLIS - Next week more than 55,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Indiana, but experts say that doesn’t mean you should stop wearing your mask and social distancing.

They reiterate it will be quite some time before we return to any kind of normal.

“I would be first in line to take this vaccine if it were offered to me today,” said IUPUI Director of Epidemiology Education Tom Duszinski.

He also has 20 years of experience working in public health. Even with those credentials, Duszinki won’t be first or second to be offered the vaccine. Like many of us he’ll have to wait months before its available to the general population.

The state announced on Wednesday that they will start vaccine distribution with frontline health care workers.

“Protecting them, is going to be really important in terms of making sure we have hospitals and clinical settings up and running if we should need them," Duszinki said.

Because of the limited doses, experts say it will be a while before we start to see an impact on COVID-19 numbers. The vaccine requires two shots over the course of 28 days to reach full immunity.

The first delivery to Indiana will include 55,575 doses, enough for 27,000 people, said Dr. Cynthia Brown.

The statistic shows that this process is not going to be a quick one.

Brown is heading up the Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial at IU School of Medicine. She is well versed in the status of the other vaccines Pfizer and Moderna. Brown said the goal of all the vaccines is not to eradicate COVID-19 but rather to slow the spread.

“We’ve only ever had one successful vaccine campaign that eradicated a disease and that was smallpox,” Brown said.

In order for the vaccine to be successful it is dependent on reaching herd immunity, meaning a calculated large amount of vaccinated people within the population.

“This vaccine is 95% effective so we actually need to vaccinate more than 70% of the population because we know that 5% of them won’t develop enough antibodies to protect them,” said Duszinski.

But it will likely be months before we get to that point.

“We have a healthcare worker population that is 350,000 to 400,000 individuals so it’s going to be a while before we get those doses,” Brown said.

Both experts believe that if all goes to plan the general population will be able to receive the vaccine in spring or summer. Duszinski is predicting that we’ll reach herd immunity by this time next year.