BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The United States is still waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Gavin Newsom recently said that by next week vaccines should be arriving in California. 23ABC's Alex Bell has the details on the status of the county's COVID-19 vaccination plan and when one doctor thinks we could see a return to normal life.
One health official explained that while a vaccine will help with the symptoms and slowing down the spread of the virus there isn't enough data to show whether or not it prevents the transmission of the virus to someone who isn't vaccinated. But she said that if everyone took initiative to get the vaccine, we could get back to normalcy by next fall.
"When you tally how many overall health care workers, we have we don't have the final number of the shipment we are expecting but we don't believe it will be adequate to cover all of the health care workers - that this will be a phased-in approach this is the first shipment," explained Michelle Corson, Kern County Public Health Information Officer.
Corson said the county health department is working with local hospitals to receive the shipments and residents should be prepared to receive new information about vaccines and the process over the next several days as details continue to be finalized from the state.
Health officials hope the vaccine will create herd immunity. Dr. Elaine Batchlor, who is the chief executive officer of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital said the vaccines will also be effective and help slow the spread but also adds that there is not enough data yet to determine if the vaccine will prevent transmission of the virus.
"What we've seen is it prevents people from getting seriously sick with COVID but we don't have enough data yet to know whether it actually prevents transmission," she said Batchlor. "They're still studying the vaccine so we will get that information eventually but when they first roll out we won't know that. So, people will need to continue to mask and socially distance even after they've had the vaccine, at least for a little while."
So when can we expect to return to normal life?
According to Batchlor a community effort is key.
"I think that we will be in very good shape by the fall of next year."
Batchlor added that so far the data shows the vaccines are safe but recipients will be monitored for any additional rare side effects. She said that most side effects like fever, headaches, and aches and pains, and when asked what are some of the most serious side effects she stated there are theoretical concerns just like with any new vaccine but they are unlikely to happen.
"The side effects that we're talking about which have not been seen in any of the trials would occur if your body reacts too vigorously to the vaccine or to the virus and you end up with damage. To your own tissues from your own immune response and that's something that's rare."
Corson also stated that currently, the county is working on developing a COVID vaccination plan page for residents to get more information and that should be up and running by next week.