The Realities of that COVID Vaccine and What It Means to You

Dr. Ben Stong guides us through the hard truths about the vaccine.

The news as of late has been all about the COVID-19 vaccine. So many people are looking at the vaccine announcements as the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Vaccines are being touted by some on social media as the key to opening public gatherings back up — the ticket to travel again, to live away from home, to get out of the house. Unfortunately, the information coming out about the vaccines contradict these expectations and warrant a serious discussion.

In fact, the information is so confusing that I recently reached out to a physician who is following the information closely. Benjamin C. Stong, MD is double-board certified in facial plastic surgery. His Atlanta, Georgia practice also has a surgery center attached, so Dr. Strong has been following the vaccine closely so that he can inform patients and get his own staff vaccinated when the time comes. He not only breaks down the public information about the vaccine, with a warning to everyone.

“It’s going to be late spring, summer before the vaccine is available to the general public.”

We Don’t Have a Vaccine YET!

According to Dr. Strong, despite all the rhetoric surrounding the progress of the vaccines, we still do not have a vaccine that is ready to dispense to anyone yet — as of Thanksgiving 2020. There are two in the final stages that are at the center of the vaccine discussions one made by Moderna and the other by Pfizer. They are still being walked through the process. As of press time, only the Pfizer vaccine has been greenlit for the public — in Britain, not the US.

It’s Important to Know who made the Vaccine You Get

The doctor has been following the news and has concluded that both of the leading vaccines are modern miracles because they have been created in record time. The problem has become about transparency. The Moderna vaccine was created as a part of the US government-backed program Operation Warp Speed. Like most programs in the Trump era, the program has not been very forthcoming with information on its processes and results.

The Pfizer drug is the one Dr. Strong says he will obtain for his own staff. Their vaccine was made in conjunction with German firm BioNTech and they have been straightforward with their information. A public hearing style discussion will take place soon, produced by the company. The corners that the Trump administration cut and its aberration of science should also be considered when choosing between the vaccine they made and the one made by Pfizer.

The Vaccine will be Available Soon, but Not to the Average Person

Dr. Strong urges people to bear in mind that the first batches of the vaccine will be used to protect the people on the front lines of the pandemic. Doctors working with COVID patients, medical personnel, first responders, and people in similar occupations. The elderly, immune-compromised, and the most vulnerable patients are in this group. Then essential workers. Healthy, able people with regular jobs are not the priority.

Manufacturing and logistics of handling and storing the vaccine also come into play. The US is not getting all of the first doses of the vaccine made by both companies. Other parts of the world need this vaccine too, some worse than us. So, don’t expect a vaccine to come your way if you are a parent working from home. Plan to stay inside until May or April.

The World Won’t Be Ready for Travel for a Year

Dr. Strong wants people to adjust their expectations and their vacation plans. He says that we may not be able to travel until Thanksgiving 2021. Although we will have a vaccine widely distributed by then, we must consider what’s happening outside of the U.S. Other countries may be slower at obtaining and distributing the vaccine amongst their people. We must also consider the politics that get in the way sometimes. All of this adds up to you suspending your tropical getaway until next year.

Take Precautions in the Meantime

He also wants people everywhere to just count this year’s holidays as a nontraditional one where families meet up by Zoom. Next year, he says, we can be together. Furthermore, as the vaccine circulates, we still need to social distance and mask up. Dr. Stong says we are not in the clear until there is herd immunity in the US. That means about 230 million of the 328 million Americans in this country must be vaccinated. That is going to take some time. And you will be vulnerable to the virus in the meantime. So until we have vaccinated enough people in this country, the masks and social distancing will not go away.

Adjust Your Expectations and Research

We must come to terms with the reality of things now. That we will be masking for nearly another year. That the vaccine won’t be available to most of us until Spring at the earliest. Then, after the US has conquered the virus, we may have to stay at home until the rest of the world follows suit. Until then, it’s time to accept our new reality…and start making TikTok videos.

That last part was from me.

Jonita Davis is a writer, film critic, and professor. She’s a member of NABJ, AAFCA, a Rotten Tomatoes critic, and an adjunct professor.

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