This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on several factors like the availability of a number of vaccines in the market. As of now, only two vaccines are approved by the FDA, and mass vaccination programs are being conducted across the country with supplies given by these two vaccine manufacturers. While the vaccine developed by Pfizer was approved last week, the other vaccine developed by Moderna got approval a few days back and is being sent out for mass vaccinations across the country.
How Long Before Everyone Has Access To Covid Vaccine?
Apart from these two vaccines, several other vaccine manufacturers are in their final stages of clinical trials, and they may approach the FDA shortly depending upon the results of the clinical trials. Johnson and Johnson had recently said that they were in the third stage of clinical trials, and they are likely to approach the FDA in the next few weeks.
If the FDA provides approval to many such vaccines in the next few months, the public health officials will have enough doses in hand to vaccinate all the people who are willing to take the covid-19 vaccine.
According to early estimates, close to 200 million doses of vaccine will be available across the US by the end of February. As the covid-19 vaccines have to be taken in two doses, nearly 100 million people can get vaccinated by the end of February. Due to the shortage of the vaccine in the initial phase of the mass vaccination program, the CDC has given priority to Frontline health workers in the first stage of mass vaccinations. The next in line will be firefighters, teachers, police officers, and grocery store workers. Apart from them, people who are having comorbid conditions may also get priority in this phase. The CDC has indicated that elderly people are more prone to getting infected, and they may be given priority over others.
The CDC has chosen this method to prioritize the vaccine distribution so as to cut down the transmission rate as quickly as possible. The essential workers like Police officers and teachers, along with grocery store workers, deal with a large number of people while performing their duties. If they are vaccinated at the earliest, the transmission of the virus reduces by a huge margin across the country.
The CDC has also given preference to people over the age of 75 and others who are suffering from comorbid health conditions like obesity and diabetes. The second phase of vaccine distribution for essential workers will begin in the month of February. Considering this schedule, the average American may have to wait for another 6 to 8 months before receiving the vaccine.
Health experts are of the opinion that if more than few vaccines are approved by the FDA in the next few months, the situation can dramatically change, and the vaccines may be readily available for a majority of Americans before the end of 2021. In any case, the federal authorities have said that they will be able to successfully accomplish the mass vaccination programs in 2021 and control the pandemic.
According to a recent survey, more than 60% of Americans are willing to take the vaccines when it is available for them. The CDC had earlier said that for the mass vaccination program to become successful, more than 70% of Americans need to be vaccinated. The authorities will be able to achieve this figure successfully by the end of 2021, according to most health experts.
Apart from vaccinating Americans, the US is also considering providing the vaccines to other nations who are in need in the future.