ABC13 answers your top questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With a COVID-19 vaccine showing some promising progress, there are a lot of questions about the vaccine. Eyewitness News Action 13 team is working to get you answers.

We took your questions straight to city of Houston's health authority Dr. David Persse and Dr. Robert Atmar, a professor of infectious diseases at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Question: When will it be available for the public?
Atmar: "Sometime in December would be my guess. Health care personnel are the initial group targeted for vaccination, followed by first responders and persons in risk groups. That will be first quarter of 2021."

He said it will roll out to the general public in the spring or summer of 2021.

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Question: Will the vaccine be routine or will it be a one-time dose?
Persse: "Your immune system works in phases. So there's an early response, which is the antibodies we've been hearing about, and there's a prolonged more consistent response that's the 'T' cell immunity, so it's too early from this result to say anything about the long-term immunity it may offer. We're going to have to wait and see."

Question: Will the vaccine be effective if you've had the virus before?

Atmar: "It's a good question, we just don't know the answers yet. When we have the efficacy data, they'll be able to tell who was previously infected by looking at antibody levels."

Question: How would the COVID-19 vaccine impact people that have auto-immune disorders?
Atmar: "Most vaccines have not adversely affected persons with auto-immune disorders. There would have been some study participants enrolled in the study that had auto-immune disorders, and that's one of the things we're looking at in terms of safety. I have not seen any specific data, but it should be coming along."

Question: If the vaccine requires two doses, do you need to get both doses?
Persse: "Generally, with vaccines where, there's a two-dose schedule, that with one dose you'll get limited immunity and it may not last very long, and with a second dose, that really gives you the higher levels of immunity, and if it's going to have a long-lasting impact, you generally get a lot more of that with the second dose."

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