JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A major milestone in the pandemic: It’s been one year since Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved.
It was the first vaccine available in the fight against the coronavirus.
Now, 480 million shots have been administered, with 60% of Americans fully vaccinated.
But new cases are up 22% since Nov. 24, 2021, as the delta variant continues to surge across much of the country. Meanwhile, the omicron variant is in at least 30 states, including Florida and Georgia.
Some doctors — including Dr. Shalika Katugaha, Baptist Health system medical director of infectious disease — are cautiously optimistic about where we are one year later.
“I feel like we’ve come an extraordinarily long way. That being said, we still have a long way to go, as well,” Katugaha said.
So how did we get here?
Dec. 11, 2020: The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 and older.
Dec. 14, 2020: The UF Health CEO gets the first COVID-19 vaccine in Jacksonville.
Dec.18, 2020: The FDA authorizes Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 and older.
Feb. 21, 2021: 500,000 Americans died from Covid-19
Feb. 27, 2021: The FDA authorizes the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
March 13, 2021: The U.S. surpasses 100 million vaccinations administered.
May 10, 2021: The FDA expands Pfizer’s vaccine for teenagers 12 to 15.
Aug.12, 2021: The FDA authorizes booster shots for Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines for immunocompromised.
Oct. 29, 2021: The FDA expands Pfizer’s vaccine for kids 5 to 11.
Dec. 9, 2021: The FDA recommends Pfizer’s booster shots for individuals 16 and older.
“This has been a year of science, of infectious disease. It’s kind of what I went to medical school for, and I’ve seen it all play out: There was a pandemic and there was this virus that came and then scientists came and created a platform, granted that’s been around, but they utilized this platform,” Katugaha said. “People will look at these two years and write books about how much we’ve accomplished.”
When News4JAX asked Katugaha what we’ve learned most over the last year from these vaccines, Katugaha said that they are effective and safe. Yet 40% of Americans remain unvaccinated as 2021 comes to an end.