Two years of COVID: A look at vaccines

Hundreds of millions have rolled up their sleeves in the last year, but tens of millions remain un-vaccinated.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Vaccines were a beacon of hope at a time when there was fear and uncertainty with Coronavirus, but like masks, the science to inoculate became politicized and divisive.

Hundreds of millions have rolled up their sleeves in the last year, but tens of millions remain un-vaccinated.

As scientists work to improve COVID-19 vaccines, the push to get shots in un-vaccinated arms remains critical.

"The vaccine story has been one of the greatest success stories of this pandemic," said Dr. Marci Drees.

Dr. Drees is the Chief Infection Prevention Officer and Epidemiologist for ChristianaCare.

She is also on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, who met to determine which group of Americans would be first to receive a vaccine.

"Corners weren't cut or anything like that. They did these massive trials very, very quickly and that's because everyone had this common goal," she said.

Leaning on years of prior research of vaccine technology, the process to develop a vaccine happened in less than a year.

Demand became unmatched. Long lines formed outside a FEMA VAX site in Center City and appointments at clinics were scarce, with healthcare workers and those most at risk moved to the front of the line.

To date, almost 76% of Pennsylvania is vaccinated. The task now is improving the existing m-RNA vaccines.

"There will be tweaking on what's the interval with doses, what's the best number of doses. There are going to be studies looking at what are the different variant options that will be the next one and how do we create a vaccine that will provide some coverage no matter what is the next one to emerge," said Dr. Drees.

And even as we head to an endemic phase, availability at pharmacies will continue.

CVS tells Action News: "We provided more than 59 million COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021, and will continue do so in the future."

But an ongoing hurdle remains as tens of millions of Americans remain completely unvaccinated.

"If we can meet people where they're at, maybe they're not going to agree to get vaccinated that day, but hopefully the next visit. We just have to kind of keep working with people and make sure they have the facts they need to make that decision," said said Dr. Drees.
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