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COVID-19: A look into how a vaccine gets approved

Each vaccine must go through three phases before being approved.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As the numbers of positive cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the United States, many people are asking when a vaccine will be available to the public.

Next month, there will be at least one vaccine heading into the third phase vaccines undergo prior to approval. It is a trial that will involve 30,000 people and can take months to sift through all of the data that will be gathered.

With a lot riding on a vaccine for COVID-19, here's a look at how the CDC says vaccines get approved.

Each vaccine must go through three phases before being approved.

The first involves 20 to 100 healthy volunteers. Researchers here are looking for some basic things: Does the vaccine work? Is it safe? Are there serious side effects and does the dosage affect those side effects?

The second phase involves several hundred volunteers. Here, researchers are looking for the most common short term side effects and how the volunteers' immune systems seem to be responding.

The third phase requires hundreds or thousands of volunteers. This is where researchers are looking for how people who get the vaccine compare to those who do not.

And again, researchers ask the common questions: Is the vaccine safe, effective and what are the most common side effects?

The only way a vaccine gets approved is if it's safe and effective and if the benefits outweigh the risks.

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