This article originally appeared in Self.
Our worst COVID-19 fears have been realized. We’re currently seeing well over 200,000 cases diagnosed per day in the U.S., with out-of-control spread in almost every state. Hospitals and ICUs in particular are overwhelmed, as we warned was possible in the spring. Deaths have topped 3,000 per day. And with Christmas around the corner, cases aren’t likely to recede any time soon.
But finally, there is hope on the horizon. Following a massive effort, two vaccine companies have submitted applications with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to receive an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which would allow people to start getting these vaccines outside of clinical trials. Pfizer’s EUA application was approved on December 11, and Moderna’s was approved on December 18.
Pfizer began shipping their vaccine out, with the first inoculations scheduled on December 14. Moderna will reportedly begin administering its vaccine as quickly as possible now that it’s been authorized. Health care workers and individuals in long-term care facilities are the top priorities for early vaccination. Both vaccines were at least 94% to 95% effective at preventing symptomatic coronavirus infections in Phase III trials, with side effects generally including symptoms such as sore arms and fatigue, along with fever, body aches, and other classic signs of the intended protective immune response.