As we await what experts believe will be an imminent FDA approval of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, leading Connecticut doctors, public health experts and politicians, among many other local leaders, are readying for its rollout across the state: a shot in the arm to fight this pandemic.
While it may soon be here literally, it’s going to take time to make its impact.
“Until we have vaccinated enough people to achieve herd immunity, we must remain vigilant,” said Dr. Jessica Abrantes-Figueredo, St. Francis Hospital chief of infectious diseases.
She and other Trinity Health experts along with Senator Richard Blumenthal answered questions about its arrival on Friday.
“This vaccine will then cause an immune response against this protein, so it can help to prevent infection of COVID-19. It is not a live virus and it in no way interferes with our DNA or genetic makeup,” explained Abrantes-Figueredo.
“We are helping other non-Trinity hospitals to store this vaccine,” said Dr. Syed Hussain, Trinity Health of New England's chief clinical officer.
“There will some people who develop symptoms after vaccination which can commonly be seen in safe vaccines which include muscle aches, injection site pain and redness,” said Abrantes-Figueredo.
Some of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group committees met virtually on Friday, too. The experts tasked with communicating the rollout of the vaccine to residents discussed the difficulties of their task, as it will happen in phases depending on a lot of factors, including your risk of getting sick.
Meanwhile, the scientific subcommittee praised the FDA's vaccine approval process.
“I didn’t see any particular issues that raised significant concerns,” said Dr. Richard Martinello, medical director of infection prevention for Yale New Haven Health.
“I was really impressed with the rigor of the process,” said Dr. Albert Ko, professor of epidemiology and medicine and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health.
While they await federal decisions before reporting their recommendations to the governor, they’re also interested in gathering some more data on the vaccine’s effect on pregnant women, 16 and 17-year-olds, and folks prone to vaccine reactions.
And while they’ll continue to evaluate vaccine data on our behalf, they also discussed wanting to make sure Connecticut has a unified system in place to track the vaccine’s impact on its residents.
“We are in an unusual situation, we’ve never done mass vaccinations. It’s been decades since we’ve done mass vaccinations,” said Ko.
But in the meantime, they’re confident this vaccine is what’s best for Connecticut.
High-level conversations are underway by some of our state's brightest, as we approach a Herculean effort. A historic one, too.
And while it will take time to vaccinate community members, Hussain reminds us, “it’s critically important that Connecticut residents understand that masking and social distancing and practicing hand washing will go all the way into next year.”