LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The U.S. has given the final go-ahead to the nation's first COVID-19 vaccine, launching emergency vaccinations and the largest mobilization and vaccination effort in American history.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine and Nevada expects to receive just under 92,000 doses in the first round of distribution by the end of the year.
"I am thrilled that this is happening and I'm thrilled with the data, some of which are fellow Las Vegas heroes were in the study provided," said Dr. Michael Levin, a physician who has been leading research of vaccine trial studies in the Las Vegas area.
According to available data, the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective against the virus which continues to rage out of control.
COVID-19 has infected 15.9 million in the United States as of Dec. 11 and led to 296,000 American deaths.
In Nevada, 181,310 cases have been reported with 2,479 deaths as of Dec. 11, according to state data.
The FDA noted the available research shows the Pfizer vaccine is safe and highly protective against the virus.
Dr. Levin says none of the patients he has evaluated showed major complications or side effects.
"They say they feel jokingly they are now invincible," said Dr. Levin.
"The side effects I've had are, that night or the day after, tiredness maybe some nausea, people will have chills or fever for a day or two or just the night," added Levin.
Nevada authorities have said the first in line to get the vaccine will be frontline workers, especially those in the medical field.
"I'm excited to get the vaccine," said Tiffany Robledo, a medical assistant at the UNLV School of Medicine.
"I work with patients who are high risk, who are vulnerable, who have pre-existing conditions and I feel like me, being a healthcare worker and being a healthcare hero, that will be a big step to stopping the spread," said Robledo.
13 Investigates spoke to Robledo just days ago about her battle on the front lines.
This summer, she helped to test people at the drive-up testing events held at UNLV.
Weeks later, she battled the virus herself.
"There were times that I didn't think I was gonna make it either," said Robledo.
"I had the worst shortness of breath, I could barely breathe, especially at night, I had the worst cough, the cough would cause my shortness of breath," said Robledo.
State authorities say Nevada will not get enough vaccines to cover all of the deemed 'tier 1' population in the first round of delivered vaccine doses.
All told, Nevada should receive about 164,000 doses between the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna, if granted emergency use, by the end of December.
The FDA will consider the Moderna vaccine for emergency use on Dec. 17.
Both vaccines must be given in two doses, a few weeks apart, depending on the brand, to be effective.
The general public is not expected to have access to vaccines until some time in 2021.