Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution: When Do Healthy Youths Get Their Dose? Our Pass To A Normal Life

              The treatment for coronavirus is neither cheap nor guaranteed effective. We are all waiting for the vaccine: our best shot at returning to normal life. Who still remembers what it was like to jump on a peak-train to New York City? Or having family gatherings without guilt and anxiety? Or having gatherings at all? 

              The good news is, relatively safe and effective vaccines have been manufactured, and are awaiting emergency approval until they can be distributed. Previously, the earliest estimation for getting a vaccine was late October and early November. However, this plan has been stalled by the recent surge in deaths, cases, and problems regarding the vaccine’s distribution. As healthy, young people, when will we receive our pass to the pre-pandemic life?


             There have been almost 1.1 million deaths worldwide. On October 8th, there were 6,420 deaths. Over six thousand deaths in one day. The faster coronavirus vaccines can reach those in need, the more lives we will be able to save. So, who are they?

             In terms of the human population, the immunocompromised and the elderly are the obvious priorities. However, there are entire countries of people who are much more vulnerable than seniors in the US. Most third-world countries have very poor healthcare systems and little aid from the government. The citizens are mostly low-paid, day-to-day workers who cannot go without a job for three days, much less seven months. To save the most people in the world, it is logical that we distribute the vaccines based on population and need. However, this poses another problem: general transportation. 

Why Are The Coronavirus Vaccines Special?

           Usually, vaccines have ample time to be condition-tested: what can the packaging endure? At what temperature will the vaccine still be safe and effective? After rounds and rounds of careful sampling, the optimal condition for vaccines is then determined. However, at the current breakneck pace, there is simply no time for us to do the same for the coronavirus vaccine. We must go with the safest data available — whereas most vaccines can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures, the coronavirus ones are an exception, thus making their transportation a struggle. 

          Currently, one of the leading vaccine candidates, Pfizer’s BNT162b2, must be stored and transported around -90 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in the US, the current cold chain transportation infrastructure cannot handle billions of incoming vaccines with such exacting refrigeration demands, nevermind countries with poor, segmented transportation systems. Even if the delivery is not a problem, storage is almost impossible. Most smaller hospitals lack this degree of critical refrigeration, let alone local clinics or rural health centers. 

           Although logistics companies are updating their cold chain and developing special containers for short term storage, getting the vaccine to a critical percentage of the population is still incredibly difficult. Even if we disregard the rest of the world and assume the US can buy vaccines sufficient for ourselves, there is still a long wait before society would resume normality. 

Are Young People Last?

            Yes, if you are a healthy, young person who is in a financially stable position, however relatively, you are amongst the last in line to get the vaccine. As stated before, the vaccine distribution will prioritize the more vulnerable groups. 

            That being said, even if you do get the vaccine early, life does not instantaneously return to normal. Whether or not lockdown will end depends on when the last person gets the vaccine, rather than when you can get it. Due to the virus’ ability to hyper-mutate, one unvaccinated individual getting the virus (which allows the virus to reproduce and change within them) then spreading it to others would deem others’ vaccination ineffective. Should this scenario occur, our progress so far would go to waste. 

           Right now, the most we can do is prepare and wait. The distribution of the vaccine will be a long and challenging process, but the reward is infinitely worth it. Who knows, two more months of quarantine, and you may begin to miss how your little cousin screams and cries at family gatherings.