When will America be vaccinated?

Brooke Burkey, Reporter

There was about a nine-month span of time between what most consider the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States and when we gave the first dose of a vaccine to someone in this country.

Now we’re about a year into it, and the end seems to be in sight. Though, the end date of this whole thing has been changed more times than any of us probably expected. Remember when we just thought we were getting two weeks off of school?

The development of a vaccine was the thing most of us were holding onto for hope; “when a vaccine comes out, this’ll all be over.” And as more vaccines are developed, finalized, and approved, we seem to be entering the beginning of the end, but the distribution of those vaccines is now the biggest obstacle in the way of a return to normalcy.

Moderna and Pfizer had the first FDA-approved Covid vaccines, and on December 14, 2020 the first shot was administered to a nurse in New York. The early goal was to have 20 million Americans fully vaccinated by the end of December, but by the 23rd of the month only about 1 million people had received their first of the two required doses.

High-risk groups, meaning healthcare workers, the elderly, essential workers, etc., are being vaccinated first due to the limited supply of doses, and White House chief medical advisor, Dr. Fauci, predicts that people outside of those groups will be eligible for vaccination in May or June. Even that prediction was quickly changed from his initial estimate of April, but it still offers a sense of hope.

But with stories coming out all the time about things like new strains of the virus popping up, vaccines being ruined from too-warm of temperatures, and the amount of Americans who’d rather not get the vaccine, it sometimes seems like we’re going to be stuck in this situation for longer than we’d like to think.

I interviewed Makenna Hartmann and Abby Deeths, both juniors at Fruita Monument, on their thoughts about the vaccine. Hartmann said that she wanted to get the vaccine because she doesn’t “want to put others at risk, even if the vaccine hasn’t been tested as much as they usually are.” Deeths responded similarly, saying: “I am completely willing to receive the vaccine. I trust our scientists and I understand that they are much more educated on this topic than I am.” But she said she has a couple people in her life who aren’t so excited about getting the vaccine: her grandparents. She said, probably because of the general sense of mistrust in our country due to our current political climate, that they “do not believe it to be safe or effective.” Hartmann and Deeths both also gave me predictions for when they think life will be “back to normal,” Hartmann saying March 2022 and Deeths guessing the end of the year, but also acknowledging that things might not ever go back to “normal”; going through a pandemic may change a lot of things about how our society runs as a whole. 

Members of the White House are definitely shying away from making any certain predictions, saying, “we are not in a place where we can predict exactly when everybody will feel normal again” and things similar, but Dr. Fauci has said that as we enter 2022 there will hopefully be a return to most if not all normalcy. Similarly, President Biden has said we could be in a situation where we’ll be living much more normal lives by Christmas.

According to The New York Times, as of February 24, 2021, about 1.45 million doses of the vaccine are being administered daily. They continued saying that about 70 to 90 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated for “herd immunity,” and at our current pace, 50% of the United States population could be vaccinated by around August 14, 70% by November 15, and 90% by February 17, 2022. 

A common consensus is that things will be getting pretty steadily better from here on out, with this summer looking to bring with it much more freedom than many concerned citizens experienced last year. The fall will probably see many schools still choosing to stay remote, especially schools with younger kids who the vaccines haven’t been approved for yet, but a lot will probably choose in-person or hybrid plans. We may be able to safely have holiday celebrations together in 2021, and if things go according to plan, life could be completely, totally normal by 2022.