The good and the bad of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout so far.

Published on December 21, 2020

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was the first vaccine to be granted emergency use authorization by the FDA this month. Rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has proceeded in the U.S. with the Moderna vaccine coming next.

Good news: The U.S has doses to administer.

The first bit of good news is that the U.S has an actual vaccine to administer to citizens. The U.S follows the U.K in terms of vaccine rollout, and is following a similar system of prioritizing certain groups of high-risk individuals to get the shot first. This means that front-line healthcare workers are first in line, as well as certain government officials per a government contingency plan. The next groups in the priority list are essential workers and individuals over the age of 75. Anyone who gets the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine must get two doses. You must get the second dose three weeks after your first dose.

Bad news: Anaphylactic reactions and side effects

There have been several people, including three Alaskan health care workers, who have experienced an anaphylactic response to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. That means that they had a severe allergic reaction to something in the vaccine, and required emergency doses of epinephrine as a result. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include swelling of the face and lips, a tingling sensation in the tongue, itchy ears and eyes, hives, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. It can feel like a golf ball is stuck in your throat and no matter how hard you instinctively swallow, trying to get rid of the feeling, the golf ball just keeps increasing in size.

The FDA is currently investigating the allergic reactions that have occurred so far. The CDC has issued a list of recommendations on the issue. Those who experience an anaphylactic response requiring emergency use of epinephrine to the first dose of the vaccine should not get the second dose. The CDC says that those who have a history of allergies can still get vaccinated, but that they should consult with their doctor before getting the vaccine. Anyone who has ever experienced a severe reaction to any of the ingredients used in the vaccine should not get it. Here are the ingredients for the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine.

While the thought of experiencing an allergic reaction is extremely scary and needs to be taken seriously, there have been about six allergic reaction cases out of 250 thousand doses administered. Talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have a history of allergies.

Side effects for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine include fever, chills, body aches and soreness at the injection site. It is worth noting that this is typically a result of your body’s immune response to the vaccine, and most vaccine participants said the side effects wore off after one day. It is vital to get the second dose if you don’t have an anaphylactic reaction to the first does in order to get the full efficacy of the vaccine.

Good news: Another vaccine has been given EUA approval by the FDA

Several parts of the U.S have already received doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is the second vaccine granted emergency use authorization by the FDA. One upside of the Moderna vaccine is the fact that it doesn’t have to be stored at the same negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit temperature that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine requires. The Moderna vaccine does have to be kept extremely cold, but remains stable at negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature is comparable to the temperature of most freezers.

A nurse in Connecticut was among the first to get the Moderna vaccine. More states are expected to get shipments of the Moderna vaccine on Monday. Here are the official list of ingredients for the Moderna vaccine, for those concerned about potential allergic reactions. None have been reported so far for the Moderna vaccine, but stay tuned for updates.

Good and bad news: A new COVID-19 strain

A new strain of COVID-19 has been reported in the U.K., prompting strict lockdowns. However, the good news is that the COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be just as effective against the new strain. Dr. Vivek Murthy, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. Surgeon General said that there was, “No reason to believe that the vaccines that have been developed will not be effective against this virus as well.”

Katherine Stinson is an award-winning journalist and Staff Reporter at Grit Daily News, where she covers Texas and Southern states' startup and entrepreneurship news. Based in San Antonio, Texas, she also contributes to ScreenRant, Outlander TV News, and San Antonio Magazine.

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