FDA panel endorses Moderna coronavirus vaccine

It's a step preliminary to the FDA authorizing the vaccine for emergency use — which could happen today.

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A Food and Drug Administration advisory group has endorsed the coronavirus vaccine created by Moderna, a step preliminary to the FDA authorizing the vaccine for emergency use. That could happen as early as today.

If the authorization takes place, Moderna’s 5.9 million vaccine doses could start being shipped around the U.S. as early as this weekend.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn addresses the media during a press conference at the White House. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Moderna vaccine for emergency use soon. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

The Moderna vaccine can be stored at standard freezer temperatures and has a longer shelf life than the Pfizer-BioNTech iteration. It is expected to be key in reaching more rural locations that would not have access to the ultracold storage the Pfizer vaccine requires.

Initial doses of both vaccines are scheduled to be given to priority groups, like frontline health care workers and the staffs and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Read More: Congress to receive 1st doses of coronavirus vaccine

Some states have proposed that essential workers — including teachers, law enforcement officers, bus drivers and restaurant workers — be added to the list for urgent vaccination.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are in negotiation for how many vaccines the U.S. government will purchase for the public in the early months of 2021. At least one-third of the population — or 100 million people — are expected to be vaccinated by March.

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The Moderna vaccine also requires two doses. The second should be given four weeks after the first. The second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine is administered three weeks after the initial shot.

“For maximum protection, both doses should be given,” Dr. Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer at Moderna, said.

Anaphylaxis is a rare allergic reaction to both vaccinations. Therefore, after a subject is vaccinated, they should be observed for 15 minutes.

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Other reported side effects include fever, chills, fatigue, headache and joint and muscle pain, which are more prevalent in the Moderna vaccine, especially after the second shot.

Coronavirus has killed more than 300,000 Americans, so for many, the vaccines are highly anticipated. Despite polls suggesting there are swaths of citizens reluctant to take them, public confidence in the vaccines continues to slowly grow.

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