Now that the distribution of the COVID vaccine has begun, many Americans are eager to get their shot. While healthcare professionals are already being vaccinated around the country, Anthony Fauci, MD, recently predicted that the general population who are not part of the high-priority groups will begin getting vaccinated this spring. With that timeline seeming far off to many, some people may try to cut in line to get the COVID vaccine, but experts say there could be some seriously scary consequences as a result. To see what kind of fallout cutting the line could cause, read on, and to find out what you should stay away from when you do get the vaccine, check out You Shouldn't Do This Right After Getting a COVID Vaccine, Expert Warns.
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A black market could develop.
Physician and CNN medical analyst Leana Wen, MD, said she's concerned that the scarcity of the vaccine and the extended rollout will lead to people cutting the high-priority groups and attempting to get their hands on the vaccine sooner. As a result, Wen said it's very possible "a black market could develop" in America. "We're already seeing this happen in some other countries," she pointed out.
Aside from the societal impact of a vaccine black market, Wen also cites the personal risk you could face if you try to rush the process. "All coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. are ordered through the CDC. If you get a vaccine outside of this process, there's no guarantee that what you're getting is actually the authorized vaccine," she said. "It's really important to avoid internet scams and get your vaccine only from doctor's offices, pharmacies, and other approved locations."
A vaccine black market might sound far off, but it's happened before, Wen nots. "During a flu shot shortage in 2004, federal agents seized 8,000 doses of unapproved flu vaccine intended for sale on the black market," she said. And for more up-to-date information on COVID, sign up for our daily newsletter.
You're putting other people's lives at risk.
Cutting the line means that you're taking a vaccine from an essential worker, an older person in a nursing home, or someone at risk of severe complications from COVID. "Those who skip the line will end up using a vaccine that someone else needs more," said Wen.
Plus, there is also the issue of disrupting the healthcare system. Wen pointed out that if people like nurses are unable to get the vaccine because they've been allocated to someone who wasn't high-priority, it could mess with the healthcare system when we need it most. "We need to protect our nurses, to have a functional health care system," she said—which is only possible if everyone waits their turn to get the vaccine. And for more on who shouldn't get vaccinated at all yet, check out These Are the Only People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine.
Getting the vaccine sooner doesn't mean you'll be disregarding precautions any sooner.
Many people are ready to make a mad dash to get the vaccine so they can shirk mask mandates and social distancing measures. However, experts have continuously said that we won't be saying goodbye to the majority of COVID precautions until about 70 percent of the population has immunity, which is months away. That's because "we're not sure, at this point, that the vaccine protects you against getting infected," Fauci told Chris Cuomo on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time recently. "We know for sure it's very, very good—94, 95 percent—in protecting you against clinically recognizable disease and almost 100 percent at protecting you for severe disease."
But "until you have virus that is so low in society, we as a nation need to continue to wear the mask, to keep the physical distance, to avoid crowds," Fauci told Cuomo. "We're not through with this just because we're starting a vaccine program. Even though you, as an individual, might have gotten vaccinated, it is not over by any means. We still have a long way to go, and we've got to get as many people as possible vaccinated of all groups." To find out when you will be able to get rid of your mask, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Is When You'll Be Able to Throw Away Your Face Mask.
It's really not too long before you could get your vaccine anyway.
While on MSNBC on Dec. 14, Fauci predicted that "some time by the end of March, the beginning of April … the normal healthy man and woman in the street who has no underlying conditions would likely get [the vaccine]." That's only four months away, which doesn't seem so bad when you consider you've been wearing a mask, diligently washing your hands, and maintaining social distance for the last nine months. To see more predictions from Fauci, check out Dr. Fauci Says This One Thing Could Spread COVID More Than Anything Yet.