(Iowa City) -- The Dean of the University of Iowa Medical School says the two COVID-19 vaccines preparing to hit the market are safe.

Dr. Brooks Jackson is UI's vice president for medical affairs and the dean of the Carver College of Medicine at the university. In reviewing the available data, Jackson says the public should be confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

"As an investigator of a number of vaccines and drug trials for infectious diseases, I believe Iowans should feel confident that the COVID-19 vaccine that will become available shortly are effective and safe given the efficacy and safety data we have seen to date," said Jackson.

Two vaccines -- one each from Pfizer and Moderna -- are anticipated to receive FDA approval soon. The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved for use in the United Kingdom. Jackson says the University of Iowa played a part in clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine and that he enrolled in the study himself.

"The UI Carver College of Medicine was one of the study sites for the Pfizer vaccine trial, enrolling 270 volunteers for the clinical study, including myself -- I was one of the first to enroll in July," said Jackson.  "Although, I don't know whether I received the placebo or the vaccine, but I am very excited and can feel very confident that this will be a very efficacious and safe vaccine.  The Moderna one looks very similar."

Iowa officials this week unveiled their plan for distribution of the first rounds of vaccines, which will be reserved for health care workers and long-term care facility residents. Jackson says the rest of the population needs to continue practicing mitigation measures as numbers of COVID-19 infections continue to rise across Iowa.

"Clearly, the news on vaccines gives us hope and I encourage Iowans to get the vaccine when it becomes available over the next few months," said Jackson.  "But we're not there yet and until then, we must continue to do things to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.  We must continue to wear masks and maintain proper social distancing, avoid large gatherings of people and wash our hands frequently."

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she would be willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine publicly to demonstrate her confidence in its effectiveness. Jackson says if vaccinations progress as anticipated, COVID-19 could begin to fade.

"The weeks and months ahead look indeed very promising, but we cannot let down our guard just yet," said Jackson.  "Let's be cautiously optimistic -- if we stay vigilant and work together -- I think we will likely be able to look forward to life returning to normal sometime in 2021."

The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage and will require two doses 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine can be stored in freezers at minus-20 degrees Celsius and requires two doses 28 days apart.

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