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State Health Officer explains coronavirus vaccine most likely won't be available for pregnant women, children

Vaccines could be available as soon as mid-December.

Posted: Nov 18, 2020 7:11 PM

WAAY 31 talked to the State Health Officer about the coronavirus vaccine now that both Pfizer and Moderna have said their trials show their vaccines are more than 90% effective.

Dr. Scott Harris said they've learned from the CDC that once a vaccine is approved, the allocation will be based on per capita population. He believes that means Alabama will receive a few hundred thousand doses at first. That means not all health care workers will be able to get it immediately.

"We have within that group of health care workers, prioritization as well. As well as for those people who are most at risk. Those people working on actual COVID units taking care of patients, those people doing aerosol generating procedures that put them at higher risk," he said.

Harris said he's working with the federal government and the CDC to prepare the state to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine as early as the middle of December. This week, Moderna and Pfizer have both released that their vaccine trials are showing about a 95% effectiveness rate in people participating. 

"I don't think we really know exactly what they mean when they talk about 95% effectiveness. Most vaccines aren't nearly that effective. We have some like the measles vaccines that are highly effective in the high 90% for people who complete the series. But compare that to the flu vaccine in which in a good year is maybe 50% effective," Harris said.

He explained once the CDC and an advisory board review that data during the emergency authorization process, it will help bring greater understanding. He said like any other vaccine, these will not be cures for the virus.

"As the vaccine comes out, we don't want the public to suddenly say everything is fine. We are not going to have enough for several months and we need to continue to ask people to be safe," he said.

Harris also explained children and pregnant women most likely won't be eligible for either of the vaccinations currently being widely discussed.

"We know for a fact that none of the trials so far have recruited enough children or pregnant women that there is going to be any approval for children or pregnant women to receive the vaccine. Ultimately, the FDA and the advisory committee are going to make that determination," he said.

Karen Landers, Madison County Health Officer, who is also a pediatrician, said she and the American Academy of Pediatrics are asking that the vaccine trials for children get moved along so that there is a vaccine available for them as well.

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