SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Dr. Chris Rustin has definitely been watching the effort to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine. Monday, when Pfizer announced its clinical trials have shown its vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing infection, he said it’s all good news.
“It’s very exciting but I do want to point out that the vaccine is still going through the clinical trial process,” said Rustin who is the administrator of the Chatham County Health Department.
He says any vaccine still has to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and then manufactured and distributed.
“The word we’re receiving is that there will be a limited amount of vaccine in the beginning and that will be prioritized to certain high-risk groups,” said Rustin. “And then as more production of the vaccine commences it will become available to the general public.”
Nationally, health experts say the vaccine won’t be available to most of us until mid-2021. Because of that, Rustin says the safety measures that have been pushed in recent months are more important than ever.
“Our public health message is still critically important, you know, wear your mask, wash your hands and social distance appropriately,” he told News 3.
This week, the U.S. hit another milestone with more than 10,000,000 coronavirus cases, and word about the vaccine comes as coronavirus cases nationwide reached a grim milestone over the weekend, 10,000,000 cases with nearly 240,000 deaths.
Monday in Chatham County, 40 new cases were reported for a total of 9,772 cases. There have been 194 deaths in Chatham County.
Rustin says this about the numbers. “I think what that does is highlight that the virus is still here it is still being spread through the community and that the only way to sort of break that transmission cycle is to follow those public health guidelines,” he said.
The health department head says a vaccine will be critical when we have one. He says the trials should bring us hope but until then it’s safety practices that are important.
Rustin also urges people to think of those safety concerns when planning holiday gatherings with family. He says have small groups, and when possible, gather outside.
“And remember that you could be asymptomatic and still spread the virus, so remember your loved ones and try to do everything to ensure that everyone is safe at these various holiday events,” said Ruskin.
“And you’ve heard the term ‘COVID fatigue,’ because we’ve been dealing with this since early March,” he continued. “And I know the public is probably frustrated with hearing the term ‘COVID’ all the time, but it is here. And I think if we plan for it and we continue to follow the public health guidelines, we can at least reduce the risk for ourselves and our loved ones.”