If you’re anything like me, you’re starting to get excited about the possibility of life post-pandemic now that the first coronavirus vaccine is officially rolling out in the U.S. (Which friend’s couch can I crash on first? How many cafe Wi-Fi networks can I connect my laptop to in a single week?) News is happening so fast, it’s been hard to understand what the next year might look like. According to Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, we should have vaccinated high-risk people by April, and by April or May, there should be enough vaccine doses for most of the general population to get vaccinated, as SELF previously reported.
But what does that mean as far as making plans for the year? Turns out, you might want to hold off on booking international vacation plans this summer, but cuddling with your (vaccinated) friends and family members could be in the cards relatively soon.
SELF spoke with three experts to get a handle on where we’re headed with vaccination and what life could look like in the coming months: Jessica Malaty Rivera, M.S., a microbiologist in charge of science communications for the COVID Tracking Project; Sandra Albrecht, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and chief epidemiologist at Dear Pandemic; and Sara Hurtado Bares, M.D., associate professor in the division of infectious diseases at University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Here’s where these experts think we’re headed in 2021.
SELF: When do you expect that everyone in the U.S. will have access to a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine?
Sandra Albrecht, Ph.D., M.P.H.: The earliest will likely be in the spring, but more likely over the summer.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, M.S.: I feel like it'll probably be closer to Q3 of next year. Q2, Q3. But we're talking about hundreds of millions of people needing to get vaccinated. It's gonna take a long time.
Sara Hurtado Bares, M.D.: I think with the Operation Warp Speed timeline, it's been much earlier than I really thought it would be before we began to see everything roll out. But it sounds like by spring of 2021, by April, May, June, is when it may be available for the general population.
SELF: How concerned are you about vaccine hesitancy? Is there anything that concerns you more in regards to vaccination?
J.M.R.: Very concerned. It’s especially a concern with the coronavirus vaccine because there has been a prolific amount of misinformation about the virus and the vaccine itself. I'm also concerned about the logistics. You know, if we're primarily going to be using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, those vaccines required two doses for efficacy. That’s people having to go in two times, weeks apart for complete protection, and it's gonna take a while to be managing all those visits and appointments. It’s gonna be bumpy, I think.
S.H.B.: I think it's absolutely a concern. It's not new with coronavirus. There may be groups that are more likely to be hesitant to receive the vaccine than others and for very, very understandable reasons. The Black community has, among other experiences, been experimented on with the Tuskegee trials, where they did not receive treatment for syphilis. Some Latino individuals, among other populations, are concerned that contact tracing and things like that may reveal their immigration status. We'll need to make sure that the outreach and the education are culturally sensitive.