State health officials give update on coronavirus vaccine

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Greenville, SC (WSPA) – Recent news about covid vaccines from manufacturer Pfizer and Moderna, bringing new hope to the medical community, as well as raising concerns about possible side effects from the vaccine.

In a media conference call on Wednesday, South Carolina health officials stressed that no shortcuts were taken and all guidelines are being followed in the production of these potential vaccines.

The Greenville County Health Department,  a place to currently get COVID testing,  may soon distribute the vaccine to the general public and this latest conference call was meant to answer questions and ease fears.

What seems like a sprint to develop, is actually a marathon that started more than a decade ago with pre-clinical research on other vaccines. That early information gave researchers insight on how to develop the coronavirus vaccine.  

“This work has been ongoing since 2003, with the advent of SARS, so there’s been more than a decade of pre-clinical research.”  South Carolina Assistant State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jane Kelley said.

Health officials say China released the covid genetic code on January 10th of this year, giving researchers much needed insight and saving valuable time.

Once the vaccine is released, people will go to designated places to receive the initial dosage.

“I definitely want to get it; I’m tired of being isolated from family and friends.” will take the vaccine, Marianne Wages said.

Marianne Wages hopes the vaccine is ready before the birth of her grandchild in January, however she isn’t thrilled that she won’t see her family on Thanksgiving. Officials encourage caution as the holiday season approaches.

“Well certainly for the immediate future for the upcoming holidays, all the recommendations that we have for prevention and protection, must remain in place.” State Epidemiologist, Dr, Linda Bell said.

The Federal Government is making arrangements with large grocery chains, like Ingles grocery to reach the vulnerable populations.

As of Wednesday, more than 175 organizations across the state have enrolled or are in the process of enrolling to qualify as a distribution center to supply the vaccine to the public.

Those organizations must meet CDC requirements in order to be approved as a distributor.

Even with precautions some are still hesitant to get the vaccine. Β “I want to see somebody else get it and see what the reaction is if it’s a minor side effect, no big deal, I have minor side effects with my flu shot every year.”Β  will wait to get vaccine, Susan Dean said.

When it’s time to ship the vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine will come directly from the manufacturer, while the Moderna vaccine will be delivered by the Federal Government with input from DHEC, but officials say distribution is still weeks or even months away.

“Pfizer may apply for emergency use authorization in the next few days, but it certainly won’t be approved in the next few days. There are going to be hundreds of pages of documents to review from. That process the FDA estimates will take at least two weeks, so when you say they’re applying for a EUA in the next few days that certainly does not mean that the vaccine will be available in the next few days, it will be at least several weeks.” South Carolina Assistant State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jane Kelley said.

Health officials say that there are at least six steps in developing a vaccine, that is both effective and safe for public use.

The FDA is monitoring manufactures to make sure set guidelines are being followed in the production of the corona virus vaccine.

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