Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03)
We don’t often think of Polio anymore because no new cases have been diagnosed in the U.S. since 1979 – thanks to a vaccine. Researchers started work on the Polio vaccine in the 1930’s, but it wasn’t until 1954 that children began receiving it in the United States. A safe and effective measles vaccine took ten years to develop. And the influenza virus began affecting Americans in the 1930’s, while a vaccine wasn’t ready for human use until 1945. We are fortunate to live in a country with great medical minds who over the years figured out how to eradicate many deadly illnesses with vaccines, but they weren’t developed overnight.
This week, Americans began receiving the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine less than a year after development in the U.S. began. Thanks to the incredible doctors, scientists, volunteers who took part in the trials, private sector partners, and Operation Warp Speed, a feat that historically takes decades happened in just a matter of months. In fact, this is the fastest vaccine ever produced for a novel pathogen. It is yet another testament to the ingenuity and humanity we have seen from America throughout the pandemic.
As of last spring, scientists were anticipating the vaccine to be delivered within a year and a half. Some went as far as to say it is unrealistic to expect a vaccine in 2020. But here we are in December and first responders and America’s most vulnerable populations are already receiving it with millions of more doses on the way. Pfizer, whose facility here in Missouri helped develop the vaccine, has led the charge getting the first FDA-approved vaccine out to the American public. They have produced and distributed 100 million initial doses and have hundreds of millions more coming. And Moderna should have their approval from the FDA any minute, making millions more doses available those who want it.
Missouri is distributing the vaccine in three phases which have already begun. Phase 1 includes health care workers, first responders, essential workers and long-term care residents and staff. Phase 2 will include populations at increased risk and Phase 3 will be open to all Missouri residents. Our state is committed to providing this vaccine at a very low or no cost at all to Missourians who want to be vaccinated. For information on where and when a vaccine will be available to you, Missouri has created an entire website dedicated to vaccine updates at covidvaccine.mo.gov.
The development of this vaccine should be the last piece of the puzzle in helping restore our way of life and allowing everyone, even the at-risk population, to get back to living without fear of the virus. While many of us have tried our best to continue life as usual, the last year has been frightening and stressful for our most vulnerable populations. Now that we have a vaccine becoming available for those who want to receive it, Missourians can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to work, school and supporting the small businesses who have continued to struggle. Small businesses across the U.S. have been crippled by response to the pandemic – often times unnecessarily. With light at the end of tunnel I can’t wait to put this pandemic behind us and see our local economies booming again.