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Health experts address questions: Vaccines show promise in fight against COVID-19 spread

A technician sorts blood samples at a lab

A technician sorts blood samples at a lab for a COVID-19 vaccine study at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Fla. Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Chandan Khanna

Pfizer’s announcement Wednesday that the coronavirus vaccine it is developing with BioNTech is 95% effective offered good news amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide. Two days earlier, Moderna said preliminary results show its vaccine is 94.5% effective.

Vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Johnson & Johnson, also are in Phase 3 of clinical trials. Distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could begin by the end of the year.

Newsday spoke with several Long Island doctors and a pharmacist to answer questions about the vaccines.

With David Reich-Hale

What does a 95% effectiveness rate mean for controlling the virus’ spread?

Is the caveat here whether or not enough people are vaccinated?

What would you say to Americans worried a vaccine is being rushed through?

Will vaccines eventually eradicate the virus?

When can we get back to normal and, for example, go into crowded restaurants or basketball arenas?

Who likely will get the vaccine first?

How long will it take for everyone to get access to a vaccine?

Does the good news about the first two vaccines indicate that others in Phase 3 trials may have a high level of effectiveness?

What is unknown about the vaccines?

Where will I be able to get a vaccine?

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