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What does it mean that the COVID vaccine is available under emergency use authorization?

Health care workers answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Shaquita Bell, MD explains the emergency use authorization approach used for the COVID vaccines, and why you can have confidence in the process.

So, there’s a process called emergency use authorization. So, a lot of people have been using the term EUA and you may hear that in the media, or you may hear people talking about it. What that means is that the federal government moved up its ability to evaluate all the science behind the coronavirus vaccine. All of the science, all of the data, all the research. There are people in rooms reading and reading and counting and doing the math all over again, to make sure that the companies who develop these vaccines did all their due diligence in terms of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

So, a lot of you will remember when the vaccine, when companies announced, “Hey, we found a vaccine,” a lot of people are like, “Well, well, why can’t I get it?” It’s because our federal government said, “Let’s make sure that it’s safe for people to have and that we know what the dose is, and how far apart they should be and what the side effects will be.” So that’s what the emergency use authorization act is.

In terms of whether to wait for EUA or whether to wait for full approval versus getting a vaccine that’s EUA approved, I think that’s really negligible. A lot of it is really just sort of the logistics around distributing the vaccine and how to store it and how many you can give away. The safety and efficacy of the vaccine itself is part of the EUA process. So, if this vaccine was not safe and not effective it would not have any form of approval. So, I feel like a vaccine that has an EUA is safe to give and waiting for full approval is really not important because it doesn’t mean anything different to me as a human getting the vaccine.

This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decisions. Click here for vaccine FAQs from the CDC.

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