WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has given the final go-ahead to the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine, launching emergency vaccinations in a bid to end the pandemic.
Shots will begin in a few days after Friday's decision by the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA called the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech safe and strongly protective.
But initial doses are scarce and rationed, with health workers and nursing home residents first in line.
Enough for the general population isn't expected until spring, and experts urge people to mask up and keep their distance during a long, grim winter.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.