The COVID-19 outbreak which began in December 2019 in China has since expanded to touch every corner of the globe. On January 21, 2020, the United States had their first confirmed case which has led to millions of people sick and thousands losing their lives. Researchers around the world have worked tirelessly to develop a vaccine to combat the virus. Fast forward to June 2020 and several candidates have reached the late stage of the clinical trials of the vaccine with promising results.

With 2021 on the horizon, it is predicted that a safe and effective vaccine will soon emerge. In this week’s blog, we will discuss the importance of vaccines and the projected timeline for the COVID vaccine.

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What is a Vaccine?

In short, vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases. The vaccine MAY help people build up immunity to an infectious disease by introducing an inactive form of a disease-causing germ to the body which in turn stimulates the immune system’s production of antibodies. This process will produce proteins to protect a person from a future infection if they come in contact with an active disease-causing germ. In the case of COVID-19, the new vaccine would make a person resistant to an infection from the virus and sickness it causes; or at the very least it would make a person who has been infected have fewer complications and a shorter course of illness.

Development and Distribution

The development of safe and effective vaccines can take years, especially when the development of a vaccine involves new technologies that haven’t been adapted to allow for mass production. The researchers behind the COVID vaccine have fast-tracked some of the steps due to the urgency of the matter. The clinical trials of the vaccine are showing safe and effective benefits that outweigh the risks but the researchers are continuing to gather data to make sure that this vaccine is safe for use across the country and globe.

When it comes to distribution, it will take time to produce and administer the vaccine to the global population. If the early releases of the vaccine are in limited quantity, the priority will be to administer to healthcare workers, high-risk populations such as individuals with severe illnesses and underlying conditions, and people 65 or older in addition to workers in essential industries. Even if the development and distribution timeline stays on track, it is important to keep in mind that it will likely take anywhere between six to nine months for the American population to be vaccinated.

COVID vaccine
A vaccination is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases.

How to Protect and Prevent Infection

While the COVID-19 vaccine is on the horizon, protecting yourself and your employees from infection is crucial. According to the Centers for Disease Control, below are precautions for avoiding infection with the virus:

Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the used tissue. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding, and other household items if you’re sick. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily. 

Avoid close contact. Stay about 6 feet apart from anyone who is sick or is exhibiting symptoms, both at home and in public. This is especially important for individuals who are at higher risk for getting sick.

Wear face masks when in public. Even if you do not feel sick, you could be spreading COVID-19 to others. By wearing a mask you are protecting others in case you are infected. Even when wearing a mask, you should continue to keep yourself about 6 feet apart from others.

Stay home if you’re sick. If you are exhibiting any symptoms of illness, please stay home from work, school, and other public areas except to receive medical care.

While it feels like this virus will never go away, the vaccine is on the horizon. Researchers and medical professionals are working tirelessly to provide a safe and effective vaccine for the world. As they continue to develop and gather data, it is crucial to protect yourself and others by taking the precautions outlined above.