Healthcare workers pushed to limit by pandemic eagerly await federally approved vaccine

Healthcare workers in Philadelphia on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic are eagerly awaiting their chance to receive the federally approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

First in line to receive the two-dose vaccine will be healthcare workers who have seen the worst of the pandemic that has claimed 298,000 lives nationally. Philadelphia nurse Elizabeth Geminder and her daughter, a nurse practitioner, are hoping to be at the front of the line. 

MORE: Pfizer will supply around 600 immunization sites across country in coming days

“It will help to bring down all the numbers, the hospitalizations," Geminder said. "Anyone out there getting it would be able to help someone else, so the more that get it, would help.”

Creating a vaccine to combat a novel virus within a year is an enormous feat of science, but now the legwork must be done to ensure millions of Americans have access to the vaccine. Measured doses will be delivered to states on Monday and then distributed to healthcare facilities.

"We are worried about making sure everyone has access to it and that these big Pharmaceutical companies aren’t profiting from it while restricting its access, so I think that’s going to be the biggest issue. Just making sure everyone can get it," Clarissa O’Conor, a fourth-year student at Drexel's School of Medicine said.

Initially, about 3 million shots are expected to be shipped nationwide, according to officials with Operation Warp Speed. A similar amount is to be held in reserve for those recipients’ second dose.

Pennsylvania, like many states, will follow a three-phase vaccination plan that puts healthcare workers and vulnerable populations at the front of the line. The subsequent phases will broaden to include the general public as the state's cache of doses grows. With widespread vaccination, some experts believe the virus can be contained by the end of next summer


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