Acadiana medical expert weighs in on endorsement of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, impacts on state

Posted at 11:01 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 00:01:56-05

As advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorse the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, what does that mean for us in Louisiana?

According to State Regional Medical Diretor Dr. Tina Stefanski, "It's the start of us getting to the point where we're able to achieve herd immunity and stop this pandemic."

With the third surge of COVID-19 in the state, Governor John Bel Edwards says Louisiana will vaccinate healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities.

Although the vaccine won't be available to the general public until late spring, medical experts are weighing in on how this development can mitigate the virus.

"While the vaccine will be critical to ending the pandemic, it's not going to save us now," Edwards said in his weekly press conference on Thursday. The governor said the state will follow the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) plan to vaccinate healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities first. Distribution is set to begin this weekend or early next week.

Stefanski says the vaccine endorsement is a starting point to ending the pandemic.

"It's a very efficacious vaccine, a safe vaccine," she explained. "I can't overstate the importance of this in helping us to get to a point hopefully by the summer where we're back to much normal life."

Advisors to the FDA on Thursday endorsed Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to be used nationwide.

READ MORE: US panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

The group says the shot appears to be safe and effective against the novel coronavirus in people 16 years of age and older. Stefanski agrees.

"This vaccine, and hopefully one that'll follow in the next week or so, is a greater than 90% effectiveness in preventing someone from becoming ill with COVID if exposed."

The general public may not have access to the vaccine until the spring means the steps to prevent COVID-19's spread are still necessary.

"The vaccine is not going to get us through the holiday," Dr. Stefanski added, "and we still need to remain vigilant and do everything that we can so the individuals, especially those most at risk, will see the benefit of this vaccine in the spring and summer when it really will be available to the general public at large."

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