Exercising Patience, Safety While Waiting For A Coronavirus Vaccine

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The news has been heartening over the last week after Coronavirus vaccines have started to emerge from trials with great success rates.

But the medical professionals say that’s the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the darkest part of the tunnel.


Dr. Mark Itskowitz from Allegheny General says, “Help is on the way but we have to understand that the next 8 to 12 weeks still represents a difficult time in our country. We see that the virus has really spread throughout the country, hospitalizations are up locally and nationally. And so all the mitigation efforts have to continue until the vaccine distribution is successful and then hopefully we can end this pandemic in 2021.”


While its possible some front line health workers will get the vaccine before the end of the year, for the rest of us, the wait will be a bit longer.


“More likely, either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine would be the first choices here in the United States,” says Dr. Itskowitz, “The first phase of vaccine distribution will be primarily to frontline health care workers, physicians, nurses, other people who work in the hospital. And then the second phase would be people who have risk factors for severe COVID-19 disease.”


But he says without a doubt, “it is clear that a successful vaccine represents the clearest pathway to end this pandemic.”


So what about the present?


Watch as KDKA’s John Shumway reports:

Dr. Itskowitz says if you are going ahead with a Thanksgiving gathering “I think that the recommendations that were made to wear a mask inside your own house. Practically speaking, these are likely not going to be followed by most people.”


So with that in mind he says, “If you can set up separate tables, that’s a good possibility, keeping the windows open for good ventilation. I think those are important strategies maybe limiting alcohol use because we know once people start drinking, mitigation strategies tend to weakened, so we are aware that these recommendations will likely have limited uptake, but I think it is important to at least try to mitigate against the threat.”


The health experts emphasize that no matter how close you are to family members or friends who don’t live with you, there is no way to know who they have been in contact with.


At the same time, Dr. Itskowitz worries about people winding up isolated, especially seniors. So he prescribes zoom or the phone, “So today we do have the capability to see and talk to each other, electronically. And again, if we can just be patient for another 8 to 12 weeks, there is help coming with these vaccines.”


Oh, and about your plans to play your annual Turkey Bowl? “It is outdoors so that’s good in terms of ventilation,” says Dr. Itskowitz, “the problem of course is the physical spacing of people which becomes a problem anytime you bring people together, you know, within three to six feet, you’re risking transmission of the virus. But this might be the year to skip the annual turkey bowl game, and maybe play a doubleheader next year.”