On Friday, December 12, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued its first Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA’s approval of this vaccine, developed by Pfizer, followed recent approvals of the same vaccine by the UK, Canada, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. Clinical trials have shown this mRNA-based vaccine, and a similar one produced by Moderna, to be 90-95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections.

Over the next week, 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped throughout the United States and first offered to healthcare workers, nursing home workers, and nursing home residents. The U.S. has suffered more than 298,000 deaths from COVID-19, with the worldwide total passing a staggering 1.6 million deaths. But now that an effective vaccine is on the way, many people find themselves worrying, “Is this safe?”

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