COVID-19 vaccine 'open season' may still be months away

As of last week, nearly three million first-dose COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the US, but we're still months away from widespread availability, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. The statement was made during a recent interview with California Governor Gavin Newsom during which Fauci also talked about testing, mutations, and other hot topics related to the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci's discussion with Governer Newsom lasted for around half an hour and is available to watch on the California Governer's Facebook page. Amid the topics was the COVID-19 vaccine, the fact that fewer doses than previously anticipated were administered by the end of December, and what the public can expect going forward into 2021.

According to the CDC, around 2.7 million first-dose COVID-19 vaccines had been administered and many people will be getting their second dose in the coming weeks. Priority has been given to healthcare workers and others who are of critical priority, with the elderly and other high-risk groups slated to get it next.

At this point in time, Dr. Fauci anticipates that the US may see widespread 'open season' COVID-19 vaccine availability in April, leading to a gradual crawl toward herd immunity — though, Fauci notes during the interview, it's not yet clear what is considered herd immunity when it comes to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Dr. Fauci said, in part:

As we get into January, the feeling is we're going to gain momentum so that we can catch up [...] If we go through the priority people [...] it will likely be the end of March, the beginning of April — let's say in April — it will be what I call open season [...] anybody who wants to get vaccinated will get vaccinated. If we diligently vaccinate people in April, May, June, July, we'll gradually and noticeably get a degree of protection approaching herd immunity.

The public can monitor the COVID-19 vaccine's rollout in the United States on the CDC's website. As of December 30, the CDC reported 2,794,588 first-dose vaccine administration and a total vaccine distribution of 12,409,050 in the US.

The COVID-19 vaccine is administered in two doses three to four weeks apart. Dr. Fauci recently said that the US will follow this dosing protocol based on the science rather than following the UK's lead in lengthening the time between doses to expand the number of people who get at least one dose.