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Idaho medical expert explains what the CDC coronavirus vaccine timeline means

Dr. David Pate, a member of the Idaho coronavirus task force, breaks down the new announcement and explains how it plays into "normalization" from COVID.

BOISE, Idaho — CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield revealed during congressional testimony early Wednesday the long-awaited timeline for a hot-ticket item: the COVID-19 vaccine.

“To get back to our regular life, I think we are probably looking at late second quarter or third quarter, 2021,” Redfield said.

While a vaccine may be right around the corner, the end of the pandemic is far from over, according to Dr. David Pate, a member of the Idaho Coronavirus Task Force. However, news of a possible vaccine is encouraging.

“This is a vaccine for which the whole world needs it and the whole world wants it and wants it fast," Pate said. "So actually, the economic opportunity here is really driving this process along where these companies have a big financial motive to create a vaccine that they might not in other circumstances."

There are currently hundreds of studies working to determine which vaccine will be most effective, according to Pate. Once an effective one is discovered, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have to approve the product before it is slowly rolled out to the public.

“We're not going to have enough vaccine as soon as this is approved to vaccinate everybody," Pate said. "The federal government has already decided who is going to be prioritized and it’s the groups you might think. It’s healthcare workers, first responders and our most vulnerable."

Even with enough vaccines for the general public, convincing people who don’t trust the government or the process to get the vaccine could present another dilemma.

“If we don’t vaccinate enough people, we won’t get the protections we are looking for,” Pate said.

Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine could be more difficult compared to vaccines that are known by the public, like childhood immunizations or the flu shot.

“Most vaccines you only have to get once," Pate said. "This one, for most of the vaccines that look promising, you are going to have to get two shots a month apart. That always makes compliance harder."

There are also questions about how long the vaccines in development would provide protection from the virus

“I don’t think anybody believes this is a one-and-done where you are going to get one shot and you are protected for life," Pate said. "We have vaccines like that, but I don’t think this is going to be one of those."

It is believed by experts that a seasonal or yearly vaccine could be required to retain immunity, similar to flu shots.

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