LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A coronavirus vaccine could be available as early as next month, as pharmaceutical companies continue making massive progress.
Operation Warp Speed has been an unprecedented success, with three companies producing a COVID-19 vaccine — all of which have been testing at over 90% efficacy. But some are concerned by the potential side effects.
While experts say the possible side effects are relatively mild and they are encouraging everyone to take the vaccine when it becomes available, some people are not entirely convinced.
“These vaccines are safe, they’re effective, and they prevent very serious disease,” said Dr. Marc Kahn, Dean of the UNLV School of Medicine.
The key to combatting COVID-19 could be right around the corner. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca say their coronavirus vaccines are extremely promising. But there is some concern about the side effects because the COVID-19 vaccine is administered in two doses, but after the first shot, some people may experience issues.
“The side effects are a sore arm, some feelings of fatigue, maybe some low-grade fevers, and maybe some muscle aches,” Dr. Kahn said.
But Dr. Kahn says those symptoms can be alleviated with over-the-counted medications, such as Tylenol.
“These are very, very, relatively minor side effects compared to the lethality and the morbidity of COVID itself,” Dr. Kahn said.
Dr. Kahn urges everyone to make sure they go back for the second shot, as it is meant to solidify a strong response to the virus. Another worry some people have is if the vaccine will stay effective down the road, given how fast it was developed.
“The risk factor of it not being as safe as we understand or know in the intermediate or long-term is really my concern,” said Las Vegas resident Gregory Sklar.
“There’s so much we don’t know about the virus at this point in time, and I think there’s going to be a large curve before we get the vaccination right,” said Las Vegas resident Fonda Tanner.
But Dr. Kahn says things have been quick because of prior research.
“A lot of this was based on existing technology, applied to a new virus,” Dr. Kahn said.
And while some plan to hold off, Dr. Kahn has a clear message to Nevadans:
“Get vaccinated once you’re able to get the vaccine,” he said.
There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines that have finished their phase three investigation. But until the vaccine is widely distributed, experts urge everyone to continue practicing the basics: social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand washing.
Once a vaccine is available, health leaders already have plans for who will get it first. The plan is to send them out in priority waves.
The initial push will focus on the most vulnerable Americans, followed by senior citizens and healthcare workers in January. That means the general public may end up waiting until next spring before getting a vaccine.