According to the CDC, as of 3/30/2021, COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, a total of 189 million doses have been delivered, 147 million doses have been administered. This accounts for 20.7% of the U.S. population over 18 years of age being fully vaccinated and 49.8% of the U.S. population over 65 years of age being fully vaccinated.
Interesting stat: the highest daily reported total number of new daily COVID-19 cases in the U. S. occurred on January 8, 2021 – 315,119. On March 29, 2021 that number was reported as 60,699 new cases.
mRNA Vaccines Highly Effective in Real World Situations
Nearly 4,000 health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers completed weekly SARS-CoV-2 testing for 13 consecutive weeks (HEROES-RECOVER Study). Under real-world conditions, mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) effectiveness after full immunization (≥14 days after second dose) was 90% against SARS-CoV-2 infections whether symptomatic or not. Vaccine effectiveness of partial immunization (≥14 days after first dose but before second dose) was 80%.
The results reinforce CDC’s recommendation of receiving full 2-dose immunizations for mRNA vaccines and COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all eligible persons.
Scruples and Drams – News and Notes from around Pharmacy and Healthcare
Pfizer announced plans to develop other vaccines beyond COVID-19 using mRNA technology.
By April 19, Americans will have access to COVID-19 vaccine in 40,000 pharmacies using the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, up from the prior 17,000 included pharmacies.
Retired pharmacists are among those approved to vaccinate against COVID-19 as the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) has expanded its list of the people who can administer the vaccines.
Reports from the White House suggest that there is no federal mandate for rolling out COVID vaccine passport systems, leaving the matter to the private sector.
46% of individuals who are open to getting a COVID-19 vaccination do not have a preference which one they get (Kaiser Family Foundation)
Johnson + Johnson is back on track to meeting their 20 million vaccine dose delivery goal by the end of March.
Pfizer has begun testing it’s COVID-19 vaccine in children 12 and under. Results from the clinical trial are expected in the second half of the year. The company plans to request emergency use authorization for 12 to 15 year-olds in the coming weeks.
AstraZeneca released high-level results from their Phase III trial. Vaccine efficacy at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 was 76%, 15+ days after receiving two doses, four weeks apart. Vaccine efficacy for participants 65+ was 85%. Results demonstrated 100% efficacy for preventing severe/critical disease and hospitalization.
Vaccine Hesitancy – Fewer people are saying they want to “wait and see” how the vaccine works in others before getting it themselves. 17% responded “wait and see” in the KFF March survey, dropping from 22% in February and 31% in January.
Patient Care Corner – COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for People Living with MS
The MS Society has released guidance for receiving COVID-19 vaccinations for patients with Multiple Sclerosis. The MS Society reiterated that there is no preferred vaccine, the vaccines are safe to use with MS medications and that people with MS should be vaccinated.
Specific guidance to a patient’s disease modifying therapy (DMT):
Continue a DMT unless advised by your MS healthcare provider to stop or delay it.
Some DMTs may make the vaccine less effective but it will still provide some protection.
For those taking Kesimpta, Lemtrada, Ocrevus, or Rituxan consider coordinating the timing of your vaccine with the timing of your DMT dose.
Work with a MS healthcare provider to determine the best schedule.
Review the MS Society full considerations related to the timing MS medications with COVID-19 vaccines.
Pregnant Women Show Robust Immune Response to COVID Vaccines, Pass Antibodies to Newborns
In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers have found the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) to be highly effective in producing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in pregnant and lactating women. The results also demonstrated the vaccines confer protective immunity to newborns through breastmilk and the placenta.
Researchers also compared vaccination induced antibody levels to those induced by natural COVID-19 infection during pregnancy, and found significantly higher levels of antibodies from vaccination.
Lastly, vaccine-generated antibodies were also present in all umbilical cord blood and breastmilk samples taken from the study, showing the transfer of antibodies from mothers to newborns.