Less than 11 months after the first coronavirus diagnosis was made in America, shipping has begun for the nation's first coronavirus vaccine.
The approval was given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday. The vaccine is made by the American drug company Pfizer. It's received an emergency use authorization which means the vaccine has gotten special approval from the FDA to be used during an emergency.
Full approval has to be obtained through a separate application process. The leader of the FDA says he hopes the shot will start being given to the public on Monday. For that to happen, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control had to first accept the FDA's recommendation that it be used.
A second COVID vaccine made by the American drug company Moderna could also get the green light in the days ahead and U.S. health officials say it's possible that doses for 20 million Americans could be available by the end of the year. The Pfizer vaccine is given as two shots. The second one coming 21 days after the first. The drug company says that when it’s given this way, it's 95 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infections.
Healthcare workers and people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will have priority in getting it, but the vaccine has not been approved for pregnant women or anyone under the age of 16. Health officials say there's not enough data to know whether it's safe for these groups. There are also concerns about allergies to the vaccine.
Two health care workers in the United Kingdom who got it and who had a history of allergic reactions both had a dangerous allergic response to Pfizer's COVID vaccine. So the FDA says people with a history of serious allergic reactions to any of the vaccine's ingredients, shouldn't get the shots.
Side affects like discomfort or a fever lasting a day or two after getting the shot are also possible. Health officials say this is normal. The COVID vaccine is the first of its kind that's been approved for use. It's also the fastest as health experts say no other vaccine has ever been developed in less than four years.