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Floridians over 18 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and teenagers 16 and older are able to get the Pfizer version with their parent’s permission.

Since December, the state has expanded vaccine eligibility in waves after giving priority to groups such as seniors, frontline health care workers and extremely vulnerable individuals.  Moffitt Cancer Center began vaccinating team members in December and patients in January.

Now months into vaccination, here’s what you need to know.

How effective is the vaccine?
Pfizer and BioNTech’s latest studies show the vaccine was 91.3% effective against COVID-19, measured seven days through up to six months after the second dose. The vaccine was 100% effective against severe disease as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 95.3% effective against severe infection defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine was also found to be 100% effective against one of the main COVID-19 variants currently circulating widely in South Africa.

A separate CDC study followed almost 4,000 vaccinated frontline health care workers for 13 weeks. Under real world conditions, mRNA vaccines were 80% effective against COVID-19 after the first dose and 90% after the second.

How long will protection last?
New research shows that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provide immunity for at least six months. It is unclear if protection will wane over time, but the fact the vaccine’s effectiveness remained almost unchanged over the span of the six-month study period is a good sign. Researchers are still working to determine if the vaccine will offer lifetime immunity or require booster shots.

When can children get vaccinated?
Pfizer studied the COVID-19 vaccine in 2,260 American children, ages 12 to 15. Preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to those given placebo shots. Results of the small study haven’t been published yet, but Pfizer says the kids had similar side effects as young adults. Moderna is also expected to release results this summer of its study vaccinating adolescents ages 12 to 17. In the meantime, the FDA has granted approval for both companies to begin studying vaccination in children 11 and under.

For more information on Moffitt’s vaccination program for team members, patients and caregivers, click here.