The “normalcy” that we have all been craving is finally within sight as more and more Americans get access to the coronavirus vaccine. Nearly a dozen different companies’ vaccines are being used worldwide. Currently, the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (until the recent recall) vaccines are all in circulation in the United States.
Unlike traditional vaccines, coronavirus vaccines are not injecting a weakened/inactivate version of the virus into your cells. Instead, they use genetic material to produce a “spike protein” that mimics the coronavirus. That way, when the real thing comes along, the immune system will know exactly what it is doing. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA to do this while Johnson & Johnson uses DNA.
The vaccine is administered in two doses. So far, more than 112 million people have received at least one dose and over 66 million have received both according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ultimately, the goal is to get at least 70-85% of the public vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. The European Union’s vaccine chief Thierry Breton revealed that they were on track to get 70% by mid-July— a sign that the same could happen in the U.S. as well.
“We now have 53 factories, seven days a week, and I will tell you today, that we will deliver the number of doses which will be necessary to achieve 70% of the population being vaccinated by mid-July,” Breton shared.
Due to the limited number of vaccines issued, states have been opening eligibility up gradually, ensuring that those who need the protection the most are able to get it first. Several states are now in a position where anyone ages 16 and up is eligible. As of now, California is one of these states.
Although eligibility is increasing, availability still remains a concern. According to CDC data, Johnson & Johnson vaccine supplies were expected to drop by over 80% during the week of April 11, leaving 785,000 compared to the previous week’s 5 million. Now, with the vaccines recall, all of the company’s vaccine is unavailable to the public.
New debates sprouted in the age of potential vaccine passports. The passports are essentially proof of your vaccination, very similar to when you are required to show proof of a coronavirus test, which would be stored in a QR code on your phone. More and more universities will probably be enacting these as they announce their new requirements for on-campus students and staff. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded to the controversy immediately, issuing an executive order prohibiting any government entity or business from mandating such passports. It is unlikely that the federal government will require these passports either.
“The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”