Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is finally here people have questions.
We have answers.
Peter Pitts, a former policy advisor with the Food and Drug Administration, joined NBCLX to address some of the more pressing concerns many have with the possibility of receiving the vaccine for both themselves and their loved ones.
When Will I Have Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine?
If you're young, healthy and don't fall into a particular priority group don't expect to have access to the vaccine until late spring or early summer, says Pitts. The vaccine will first go to essential workers, i.e. nursing home workers, hospital workers, first responders and other groups considered "at risk." For anyone not falling in any of those categories you can expect to wait a little while.
"Once you reach a young, healthy population it will probably be early to mid-summer. So by the time summer is over and we're heading into early fall and heading into holidays again we should be near or at 60 percent greater vaccination rate, which is really when you have herd community and we move from mitigating the disease to containing the disease," says Pitts.
More From NBCLX
U.K. Becomes First Country to Approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, But the U.S. Is Close Behind
Can the Vaccine Cause Autism in Children?
"I've spent way too much of my professional life explaining to people that there is absolutely no link, no link whatsoever, between vaccines and autism," says Pitts. "I don't know how much more plainly I can say it has been debunked. It is a lie. It's a dangerous lie."
Can I Rely on Herd Immunity and Skip the Vaccine?
"That's not a good strategy," says Pitts. "That's a selfish strategy because you're putting everybody else at risk. We are all in this together. Unless we all get vaccinated, it's going to be a long, ugly road forward. We all want to get back to work. We want to get our kids back to school. We want to go to bars and restaurants and movies, sporting events. And the way to make sure that happens as quickly as possible is for all of us to get vaccinated."
Can I get COVID From Receiving the Vaccination?
"It's impossible to get COVID-19 by getting vaccinated against COVID-19," says Pitts. "One of the beautiful things about the two vaccines currently under review is that they contain no live virus or any parts of dead virus....It's extremely safe. It's safer than any vaccine really ever produced before."
Will Getting the Vaccine Make me Sick?
Just as with the flu shot, a COVID-19 vaccination might give you some sore muscles that might give you a low grade fever or a headache, says Pitts. But that's about it. Try weighing the possibility of a few aches and pains against being protected against a global pandemic. Pretty easy call.
Can I trust these vaccines?
"There's no politics at play here at all. I have complete faith in the FDA," says Pitts. "What's important is that we educate the American public as to the veracity of data that the FDA is dealing with science and not politics and the urgency of getting vaccinated from a public health perspective."