2 0 2 1 S P E C I A L E D I T I O N
Because of limited initial availability, federal, state and local health ocials will prioritize certain groups to receive the vaccine rst. Front of the line
1 2 3 4
Through December: The rst doses will be oered to health care workers and volunteers. Individuals with health risk factors and essential workers will be prioritized next.
Health care workers and vulnerable populations are being prioritized in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout. Here are the estimates of how many people fall into those categories in the public health region that includes Harris County.
January-July: The general public will gain access as supply increases and once essential workers have had access. Children under age 16 will likely be last in line.
Counties in the local public health region
Emergency medical services sta: 16,509
163,834 Health care workers:
July onward: Ocials have said that everyone who chooses to be vaccinated will have access. Public health professionals will network with hard-to-reach areas.
Nursing home residents: 23,848
Acute care hospital sta: 99,088 People over age 65: 949,259
October onward: Outreach to areas that may not have received a vaccine will continue, and vaccine creators may consider plans for future coronaviruses.
People with underlying conditions:
SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Vaccine candidates An FDA panel recommended Pzer’s vaccine Dec. 10 and Moderna’s Dec. 17 for emergency use authorization. This paved the way for the vaccines to be distributed. Two other companies that have used dierent methods to develop vaccines have also entered Phase 3 trials.
long immunity could last. Early data suggests that around 70% of the population will have to be vaccinated for the pandemic to be controlled, Weatherhead said. “As [vaccine] production ramps up, it’s going to be important that the general public gets these vaccines to protect everybody, to protect those that can’t get the vaccine or those who may not have developed the strongest immune response,” she said. “It’s really going to be a com- munity eort.” The hope is that the majority of health care workers and long-term care sta and residents will be vac- cinated in the next few months, at which point more members of the public will get access. Before each new population becomes eligible, everyone in the previous phasemust have been given the opportunity to get vaccinated. Houston Health Department Director Stephen Williams said his team will look for gaps in local dis- tribution. The department adminis- tered almost 2,000 doses Jan. 2-3. “We will serve as a safety net pro- vider, based on allotment and avail- ability,” he said. “We will use the same principles and strategies that we used for testing ... to ensure there is sucient vaccine uptake in vul- nerable communities especially.” By the spring, Weatherhead said she expects more vaccine options
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long-term care facilities. As early as Dec. 28, people with underlying con- ditions or those over age 65 began to gain eligibility, according to the Department of State Health Services. Greater capacity is expected to come in 2021. According to Paul Klotman, the president, CEO and executive dean of the Baylor College of Medicine, two other vaccines to watch in early 2021 include a John- son & Johnson vaccine and an Astra- Zeneca vaccine currently in the nal phases of testing. Even with the new options, more questions remain, including to what extent they will actually limit the spread of the virus. The Pzer vac- cine was still undergoing data analy- sis fromits trials as ofmid-December. “Apersonwho is vaccinated, hope- fully, will not get severely ill, but that doesn’t mean they can’t spread it to someone else,” said Dr. Jill Weather- head, an infectious disease and trop- ical medicine expert with the Baylor College of Medicine. “We just don’t have that data yet.” Little is also known about how long a person is immune after they are infected with the coronavirus, Weatherhead said. Because of this, she said, waiting for herd immunity to develop through natural infection would result in millions of deaths without providing a picture of how
Age group Doses needed Storage
Ultra-cold frozen; lasts 5 days refrigerated
21 days apart 2DOSES
16 and up
28 days apart 2DOSES Frozen; lasts 30 days
18 and up
28 days apart 2DOSES
18 and up
JANSSEN JOHNSON& JOHNSON
Frozen; lasts 3 months refrigerated
18 and up
will become available, but which vac- cine each person takes will be dictated by what is available in the community. Certain groups, such as pregnant women and those with underlying medical con- ditions, should follow recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once more data is gath- ered, vaccines will also become available to children. Because more remains to be studied about the vaccine, Weatherhead said, it will remain crucial even for the vacci- nated to continue wearing a mask and practice social distancing. When it comes to masks and social
distancing, Weatherhead said it is dicult to put a timeline down as to when those measures will no longer be needed. “This is something that has never been done before, and it’s going to be a moving target,” she said. “That’s why it’s so criti- cal that everybody gets on board and does their part and gets their vaccine if it’s been okayed by their physician or health care provider.” Shawn Arrajj and Hunter Marrow con- tributed to this report.
For more information, visit communityimpact.com .
BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • JANUARY 2021
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