What You Need to Know


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It’s been about one year since the COVID-19 virus was first detected, beginning a global pandemic that’s upended nearly every aspect of our daily lives. In the months since, nearly 300,000 people in the United States have died due to the novel coronavirus, and millions more have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. And yet, the new year is looking a little brighter: The once-promise of a speedy vaccine has now become a reality, and it’s looking like more and more Americans will receive their vaccinations in 2021, if not by the end of this year. It’s an exciting prospect, but one that can also be overwhelming and confusing. If you have questions but don’t know where to start, ELLE.com has compiled a reading guide full of expert answers. Read on to lean more about…

The Progress of the COVID-19 Vaccine

If you’re curious about how testing is going for the various vaccines, the New York Times has created an interactive guide that breaks down how the process works, plus the status of each vaccine and which countries have given their approval. (The outlet has a similar guide for COVID-19 treatments.) Bloomberg also has its own guide that tracks the progress of each vaccine, including all publicly disclosed vaccine deals made by various countries.

How the COVID-19 Vaccine Works

Within the past month, drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer have both applied for emergency FDA approval for their vaccines. If you’re curious how either work, the Times has published explainers about each: find Moderna here and Pfizer-BioNTech here. CNBC also created this helpful video that shows how the various vaccines interact with the body:

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For a broader look, the World Health Organizations has introductory explainers into both how vaccines are developed and how they work, plus the Centers for Disease Control has more information about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and mRNA vaccines in particular, the kind both Moderna and Pfizer have developed.

When You Can Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

While we’re closer than ever to Americans being able to receive the vaccine, it doesn’t mean everyone can get it all at once. It’s been recommended that healthcare workers and those staying in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, get vaccinated first, and then other populations will be ordered into a line of sorts from there. (If you go here and plug in a few details, you can get a better sense of your place in “line.”)

For more information about the distribution plan for the vaccine, the Times dedicated an episode of the podcast The Daily to the issue, while the Intelligencer is keeping an up-to-date explainer with all the questions you probably have about the current distribution plans, including possible hurdles, the vaccine’s cost, and where you might be able to get one.

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Whether the COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe

While these are the “fastest vaccines ever developed, by a margin of years,” according to The Atlantic, there have been no serious safety concerns for the three vaccines that are most likely to be approved for use in the United States. (Though there have been reports of temporary side effects.) However, if you’re curious about the safety of the vaccines, or even want to learn more, Yale Medicine did a lengthy Q&A with Saad Omer, MBBS, PhD, MPH, the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, who also leads a World Health Organization group that evaluates the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

How to Stay Informed About the COVID-19 Vaccine

The race to a vaccine has been a fast one, but there are plenty of ways to get up to speed. A few options: You can sign up for Bloomberg’s newsletter, Coronavirus Daily, or Washington Post‘s newsletter, Coronavirus Updates, to get any breaking news delivered straight to your inbox; the Times also has a running live feed with the latest updates. And if there’s still more you need answered, the CDC and the Post both have frequently asked questions pages that address an array of topics surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination.

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