How and when can you get the new COVID-19 vaccine?

It's a complicated question — with a complicated answer.

A panel of experts on the NewsdayLive webinar titled "Who gets the COVID-19 vaccine first?" Wednesday offered this advice for Long Islanders: take a deep breath, be patient.

"It's not like if you're not, on Day One, on the highest priority list you're forgotten about," panelist Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, chairman of the Department of Medicine, chief of infectious diseases, at Mount Sinai South Nassau, said, adding that while those with the highest priorities — emergency responders, critical care doctors, nurses and staff, those with multiple comorbidities and risk factors — all will likely get vaccinated in the first wave doesn't mean others won't get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The ultimate goal, Glatt said, is to have a 100% vaccination rate for all those who want to be vaccinated.

And, he and fellow panelist Dr. Sharon Nachmann, chief of division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook University Children's Hospital, agreed: Even if you don't believe you're at risk you should get vaccinated.

"As soon as you can," Glatt said.

But, Nachmann said: "Calling your doctor's office will not help." And that's because at the moment just one vaccine — the one produced by Pfizer — has been approved for use in the United States.

It won't be until additional vaccine manufacturers have their vaccines approved for use that the pool of recipients will expand.

Don't fret. The next approval, for the vaccine developed by Moderna, could come as soon as this week, Nachmann and Glatt said.

And the doctors agreed that those lower on the risk scale will likely be able to get vaccinated by the end of the first quarter next year. That is, by March 2021.

"At some point," Nachmann said, "we won't be relying on one manufacturer, so we should have more vaccines."

And don't expect that initial rounds of vaccinations will make COVID-19 disappear overnight.

"Even if we vaccinate five million people in December," Glatt said, "it's not going to impact across the country, across the world."

"If we're going to be successful in stopping COVID we cannot just vaccinate the 80-year-olds [at high risk]," Glatt said. "We need to vaccinate the 20-year-olds, too." Because, Nachmann said, while those in younger age groups with no comorbidity factors have shown greater resilience and resistance to COVID, they've proved to be, as she said, "efficient spreaders."

The goal, ultimately, is to make the COVID-19 coronavirus no more a nuisance than the flu, maybe even the common cold.

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