Questions arise as COVID-19 vaccine gets closer to reality

A nurse shows a COVID-19 vaccine (Photo by SILVIO AVILA/AFP via Getty Images)

With recent news of promising preliminary results from Pfizer and Moderna on their COVID-19 vaccines, new questions related to a potential COVID-19 vaccine are beginning to emerge.

Vaccine Distribution

Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family physician with One Medical, is optimistic about the current data related to the two vaccines, but says 60% to 80% of the population will need to get vaccinated for herd immunity.

"We still need a majority of people to get the vaccine in order to reach herd immunity, and I think that as long as we can show the public the vaccine is safe and the vaccine is effective, then I think people will voluntarily get the vaccine," said Dr. Bhuyan.

In a draft of Arizona's COVID-19 plan, healthcare personnel are at the top of the priority list when it comes to receiving a vaccine.

"When you vaccinate healthcare workers, you preserve the healthcare labor workforce, and so, there's enough doctors and nurses to take care of people when we get sick," said Dr. Bhuyan.

Next on the list to receive the vaccine would be other essential workers, older people more vulnerable to the virus, and then the general public. Dr. Bhuyan says it will take several months to get a majority of the population vaccinated.

Vaccine mandate

Arizona State University law professor James Hodge says people should not expect the government to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, but conditions can be set by employers in the private sector.

"Upon which your vaccination is still your choice, but you may not participate in particular activities, including work, other types of social functions, depending on whether you're vaccinated," said Hodge.

Hodge says there can be exemptions based on one's religion or philosophy, and of course, medical conditions.

In the meantime, health officials are advising people to keep masking up around others, maintain social distancing, and wash hands frequently.

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)